Houston, TX – A heroic citizen helped a wounded Houston police officer rescue his partner from the burning wreckage of their patrol vehicle on Monday morning, after a suspected drunk driver turned in front of the officers.
“This is a Christmas miracle – talking about officers that are hospitalized, not officers that are dead,” Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said during a press conference.
The crash occurred on Telephone Road, as Houston Police Officers Alonzo Reid and John Daily, both 25, were responding to help a fellow officer in need of assistance on an unrelated call, Chief Acevedo said, according to KTRK.
The officers were traveling in a full-size Chevy Tahoe, and had their lights and sirens activated, Chief Acevedo explained, according to the Houston Chronicle.
A 24-year-old man in an oncoming vehicle then turned in front of them, and the vehicles collided nearly head-on, KTRK reported.
The force of the impact flipped the patrol vehicle several times before it burst into flames.
Officer Reid, who was riding in the passenger seat, was able to escape from the inferno.
He and a passerby then rushed to help Officer Daily, who was still behind the wheel of the patrol car.
They pulled him to safety, and their efforts saved his life, the chief said.
Officer Daily was transported to a local hospital by helicopter.
“We could be talking about a dead officer right now,” Chief Acevedo said, according to the Houston Chronicle.
Doctors determined Officer Daily suffered severe burns to 50 percent of his body, and he spent the pre-dawn hours fighting for his life, Chief Acevedo said earlier in the morning.
Officer Daily, a one-year veteran of the force, was taken into surgery at approximately 4:30 a.m., he said.
He remains in serious condition, but is expected to survive.
Officer Daily will undergo an additional surgery later on Monday, will need many more surgeries in the weeks ahead, according to the chief.
"Our officer is supposed to be flying home to see his mother and father in California...but instead of going to see his family they're going to come here because they got a call nobody should get," Acevedo said. “That their 25-year-old vibrant son who is just starting his career with the Houston Police Department is in here fighting for his life."
Officer Reid was also burned in the wreckage, but he is expected to make a full recovery.
“I simply want the people of Houston to pray for both of these officers, Officer Reid, Officer Daily, pray for their families," Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said during the press conference, according to the Houston Chronicle.
"That's what's important, to show that we are very supportive of both of them,” Turner added.
The suspected drunk driver was not injured in the collision and sped away from the scene.
He was soon apprehended at a nearby apartment complex, and has been charged on multiple felony counts, a well as driving under the influence.
"There is no excuse for driving under the influence," Chief Acevedo said. "We urge everyone during the holidays and throughout the year, if you're going to drink, don't drive."