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Auburn Hills Police Officer saves man trapped after fiery crash

Posted by: jgomori Posted date: November 20, 2020


Auburn Hills Officer Ben Duggar

By Jennifer Gomori, POJ Editor with excerpts from news media

Auburn Hills Police Officer Ben Duggar entered a burning vehicle to save the life of a driver trapped inside following a rollover crash.

Officer Duggar was first on the scene of the crash at 3:41 a.m. Nov. 7 on northbound I-75 near Joslyn Road. The victim, a 43-year-old Clarkston man, had driven his SUV into a guardrail.

“The front of the car was resting on top of the guardrail. The front end of the car was missing and was on fire,” Officer Duggar said. “There was some person standing outside of the vehicle. He was our witness, our caller.”

Duggar said he got out of his patrol car to check what part of the car the smoke was coming from.

“I saw there was flames so I turned around and got my fire extinguisher,” Duggar said.

The engine compartment was burning so he immediately began putting out the blaze. The witness told him the driver was still inside. “Since the air bags had deployed, I couldn’t see him,” Duggar said. “The driver’s door was damaged, so I tried the handle.”

The door would not budge so Duggar went around to the passenger side only to encounter more flames. The witness stayed close to the officer to assist if he could help.

“Not knowing if it would be spreading fast, I offered him my fire extinguisher and I was able to get the passenger door open and get inside,” Duggar said. “(The driver) was belted in thank goodness. The buckle came undone perfectly. I cut the airbag away so I could have room to move.”

However, Duggar still was having difficulty pulling the unconscious driver through the passenger compartment.

“The fire extinguisher was empty by then so (the witness) held the door open and I kept trying to move the driver,” Duggar said. “He was taller and heavier than me. I asked the passerby to go force the driver’s door open while I continued to pull him through the passenger compartment.”

The passerby was able to get the driver’s door open and Officer Duggar went around to that side of the car and quickly pulled the victim out. “I was pulling him away from the vehicle when Sgt. (Jeramey) Peters arrived,” Duggar said. “He helped me get him into the recovery position.”

Auburn Hills Fire Department and EMS arrived and assisted with lifesaving efforts, according to police. The driver was transported to a local hospital where he remains in critical condition. Police said alcohol is suspected to have played a role in the crash, which is under investigation. Auburn Hills Patrol, Command and Detectives are represented by POLC.

“No one was burned. Fortunately, Officer Duggar and the civilian on scene were able to extinguish the flames,” Lt. Brandon Hollenbeck said. “The victim sustained serious injuries due to the crash.”

“As soon as I handed him the fire extinguisher I stopped concerning myself with the fire,” Duggar said. “One hundred percent of my attention was getting the driver out before the fire came to be a factor.”

Lt. Hollenbeck nominated Officer Duggar for a departmental award for his act of bravery.

“Officer Duggar was prepared for this incident and he was willing to put himself in harm’s way to rescue the unresponsive driver from the burning vehicle,” Lt. Hollenbeck wrote in his nomination letter. “Officer Duggar’s actions during this incident were extraordinary and represent the highest standards of law enforcement.”

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