SPRING HILL, Tenn. (WKRN) – Two Spring Hill police officers are being hailed heroes for getting an injured teenager out of a crashed car that was filling with smoke.
It all began late Wednesday night on Saturn Parkway and I-65. Officer Katana Smith pulled over an 18-year-old driver who police said was weaving and speeding. Smith approached Zachary Stewart, telling him why she pulled him over.
Smith: “I pulled you over doing 87 in a 55. That’s ridiculous. Any sort of reason why you’d be doing that?”
When Spring Hill Officer Sawyer Greene arrived the 18-year-old had his window up. Greene asked Stewart to roll his window down, but he didn’t comply. After asking again, the DUI suspect rolled his window down an inch or two.
Stewart refused Greene’s instruction to get out of the vehicle. While the officer called for backup, the Spring Hill teen punched it. After a brief chase with speeds topping 100 mph, Stewart rolled his Nissan Sentra on the I-65 South ramp.
When officers arrived, they found a smoking car on its side, unaware of if the driver was alive or dead. Windows were broken and airbags are deployed.
Officers immediately went from law enforcers to lifesavers as they worked to rescue the teenager from the still-running car that was filling with smoke.
“It goes to show you, we don’t know what we are going to come up against day-to-day,” Spring Hill Police Lt. Mike Foster said. “We wear many hats in this job. One minute we are enforcing laws. The next moment we are trying to preserve life.”
Officer Greene attempted to break out the window but was unsuccessful. He pulled out his knife and cut the airbags to get a better look inside the disheveled car. “If you can hear me turn your car off. Can you hear me?” Greene yelled.
After several minutes, the unbelted teenager finally responded. With the car teetering on its side, officers warned Stewart to stay calm, and not move for fear it will roll and crush the young man. The teen dove out the window anyway.
The officer secured the barefooted young man and then assisted him to a waiting squad car on the side of the interstate.
Stewart: “Can I have my hat please?”
Greene: “You don’t need a hat in jail.”
Video showed the young man’s bloody face, but police call his injuries minor considering the ordeal he has just crawled out of. “It could’ve ended up tragically for him,” said Foster. “He is lucky not to be seriously injured in there. It could’ve been easily prevented by him staying on scene and cooperating with the investigation.”
Zach Stewart was facing a DUI, but because he fled you can now add felony evading to a host of other serious charges.