VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. - An emergency can happen anytime, anywhere.
As most people slept early Wednesday morning, Edgewater police officers and Volusia County deputies got an urgent call: A serious crash on I-95.
When they arrived, they found several crashed cars, a dump truck leaking hot asphalt, intense flames and people who were too injured to escape their burning cars.
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With the clock ticking, they ran toward the flames.
“It’s just something you have to overcome because I wasn’t going to go home and let somebody burn up in that vehicle,” said Edgewater police Officer Kevin Nugent.
He and the other officers and deputies who jumped into action assembled before the media Thursday, more than 36 hours after the crash, which was caused by a wrong-way driver in the southbound lanes of I-95 just after midnight Wednesday morning. The driver hit an SUV head-on. The person in the SUV couldn’t get out.
“I just told myself, ‘We’re gonna get this guy out of here. We’re gonna take care of him, just like we’d want our family to be taken care of,’” Nugent said.
Ax in hand, their instincts took over. Nugent and others start breaking through the windows of the damaged vehicles to get people out.
“We’re gonna get you out of there, OK?” someone can be heard promising the man in body camera video from the scene. Flames were illuminating the darkness of night. Thick smoke was clouding their eyes.
“When you have fire that’s moving quickly like that, in the moment you really don’t think about your own safety,” said Volusia County sheriff’s deputy Tim Maxwell. “You do your best to save someone else’s life.”
"Something inside of me that told me that I wouldn't be able to live with myself if we weren't able to extract him from that vehicle," Maxwell said.
The SUV wasn’t the only car with people trapped. The body camera video also shows deputies rushing to a sedan, using a knife to cut an airbag out of the way.
Adding to the chaos of the scene was a secondary crash involving a tractor-trailer and a dump truck. The dump truck was leaking hot asphalt onto the busy interstate.
The deputies and officers spoke about their bravery without any sense of hubris. After all, the crash killed the wrong-way driver, 23-year-old Devon Standish of Daytona Beach.
"In moments like that, the adrenaline kicks in and you just react," Maxwell said.
Investigators did not have an update on the condition of the man who was rescued from the SUV. Deputies said Wednesday he was taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center in critical condition.
FULL VIDEO BELOW: Officers and deputies talk about dramatic rescue
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