SAN DIEGO - A San Diego police officer said he was fueled by instinct and adrenaline when he climbed into a burning car to save its unconscious driver.
Officer Scott Brengi was the first officer to respond to reports of an overturned car on Rancho Mission Road near Ward Road in Grantville on Saturday evening. When he arrived, he saw a gold sedan upside down, and bystanders told him the driver was trapped inside.
Brengi told reporters he went over to the driver's side and tried to remove the seatbelt. When it would not budge, he climbed inside the car, reached over his back and unlatched the seatbelt causing, the lifeless man to fall on his back.
By now, the car was on fire.
"I couldn't actually see the flames 'cause I was in the car, but I could smell them, so I knew it was time to get him out," said Brengi. "My thinking was, 'This guy's not going to die on my clock, not going to die on my watch.'"
The man's legs were jammed under the dashboard, which Brengi said he pulled apart to free the man before dragging him several feet away from the burning vehicle.
"I don't look at myself as a hero because being a police officer, this is what we do," said the reluctant hero.
Brengi's rescue was the second in a week's time for the San Diego Police Department. Just before Thanksgiving, Officers Rich Perkins and Dudley Ward braved a flash flood near Lindbergh Field to save a man whose van was filling with water. Ward broke the driver's side window so they could free the man who was freezing and gasping for air.
"We just do it," said Brengi, speaking of police officers in general. "I think it's an instinct."