February 14, 2007 - Knoxville Mayor
Bill Haslam and Police Chief Sterling Owen awarded the department's
Life Saving Award to Officer Josh Hurst, Officer Brandon Glover,
and Officer Eric Heitz. Officer Hurst has been with the department
since November 2003. Officer Glover has been an officer for KPD
since October 2004 while Officer Heitz has been with the department
since May 2005.
Chief Owen said that on December 19, 2006, at approximately 8:48
p.m., Officer Hurst was on routine patrol when he was almost struck
head-on by a vehicle at the intersection of Magnolia Avenue and
Spruce Street. Officer Hurst reacted immediately and attempted to
initiate a traffic stop on the vehicle at Magnolia and Cherry Street.
The vehicle continued traveling east on Magnolia and then turned
south on Harrison Street at which time it appeared the vehicle was
Owen said, "As the vehicle slowed Officer Hurst noticed the
driver reaching underneath the seat. As a result of this action,
Officer Hurst requested backup."
The vehicle never came to a complete stop and it appeared the driver
was attempting to flee. Due to the safety concern of the citizens
in the area, Officer Hurst decided not to pursue the fleeing car.
Just as the vehicle was about to drive out of sight, Officer Hurst
noticed a flash of light coming from the interior of the suspect's
vehicle and then a large flame erupt.
Chief Owen said, "As the vehicle continued down Harrison the
fire became larger with smoke filling the interior of the car. Due
to the extreme danger this posed for the driver and the citizens,
Officer Hurst re-engaged in his pursuit."
As the vehicle turned on Lay Avenue the driver lost control of his
vehicle and drove into a yard. Officers Glover and Heitz, responding
to the call for bake-up, arrived on the scene just as the car crashed
into the yard. The passenger compartment was fully engulfed in flames.
All three officers worked to free the driver from the car by breaking
out the windows. Once the front window was broken, the officers
were able to reach in and pull the driver from the fire.
The driver suffered burns to his head, face, and hands along with
smoke inhalation. The driver was transported to UT Medical Center
where he was admitted due to the severity of his injuries. After
interviewing the driver it was determined the driver had accidentally
dropped a cigarette onto the floorboard, which in turn ignited a
quantity of kerosene. The kerosene caused the fire to spread quickly
inside the passenger compartment of the vehicle.
Chief Owen said, "When confronted with a highly unusual set
of circumstances, these three officers remained calm, professional,
and acted quickly to an ever-worsening situation. They placed their
own lives and safety in jeopardy in order to save the life of this
Mayor Haslam said, "Had these officers not acted quickly and
decisively, most assuredly this citizen would have perished. We
commend them on a job well done."
The officers will receive a signed certificate from the Mayor and
Chief along with a free dinner from Bayou Bay Seafood House.