Kent officers honored for fiery crash rescue

Posted at 1:07 PM, Jan 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-05 06:37:13-05

The photograph shows the horrifying scene—a Mercury Cougar blazing out of control.


Kent Police Patrolmen Matt Brooks and Matt Butcher hurried to Stow Street on Christmas morning where the car had careened into a utility pole. 

"I've never had a car that on fire and I've never seen anything like that before," said Butcher. 

The driver, 24-year-old Kyle Wagner of Tallmadge, managed to crawl out of the burning wreckage. But he was still close to the car and his clothes were on fire.

"When I got here...the guy was in the yard kind of running in circles," said Butcher, "and Officer Brooks was trying to get him to the ground and trying to get the fire off of him."

The officers worked together, removing some of the burning clothing, patting out the flames and moving him to a safe location until he could be rushed to the hospital. 

"I ran back to my car, got my fire extinguisher because I didn't know if anybody else was in the car," Butcher said. "I extinguished the inside of the car and didn't see anybody."

A Kent police supervisor calls the officers' actions heroic. 

"These two officers, they never thought of their own safety or well-being," said Lt. Mike Lewis. "They only thought of the safety and well-being of that driver. They sprung into action and they probably saved that young man's life."

But Officer Butcher told that it's just part of the job.

"Me and Officer Brooks just doing the right thing trying to help people out," said Butcher. That's our goal. I'm not looking for being in the news. I'm not looking to be in the paper. Officer Brooks and myself, right place, right time."

Both officers received commendations for their actions that day.

Wagner suffered third degree burns and, as of Monday night, is listed in fair condition at MetroHealth Medical Center.

Ptl. Matt Brooks and Ptl. Matt Butcher have received commendations for their response and heroic acts at a fiery crash...

Posted by Kent Police Department on Saturday, January 2, 2016