CROWN POINT, Ind. — A police officer whose patrol car caught fire after a crash was pulled to safety by passers-by about 30 seconds before his car burst into flames, police said.
Officer Joseph Kraus was hurt in Friday's crash but likely owes his life to motorists who pulled him from his burning car, said Shaw Spurlock, deputy commander for Lake County police.
"If it hadn't been for (them), we would've probably lost a good officer today."
Kraus was going to assist Lake Station police when a car apparently pulled out in front of him. He swerved to avoid it, crossed the median and clipped a minivan, said Mike Higgins, a sheriff's spokesman.
After the crash, the partially conscious patrolman was stuck inside the vehicle. Rose Ann Colon, who saw the accident with her stepson, Walter, called 911.
For fear of doing more harm to Kraus, the bystanders decided to leave him in the car. Then, they noticed heat and smoke seeping through the air vents, and the patrol car began to burn.
Gary Lucas pried open the driver's side door, and he and the other men "grabbed a limb, supported his head" and carried Kraus about 15 feet away.
Within "30 seconds, the car was engulfed in flames," he said.