MAPLE GROVE, Minn. (WCCO) – A Champlin man is being treated for burns after his car ran off the road and then burst into flames Thursday morning.
The accident happened in Maple Grove on Highway 169 just north of Interstate 694 shortly after 5 a.m.
Officers had minutes to get 58-year-old Douglas Aure out of his car before it was fully engulfed in flames.
Traffic management cameras show a fireball near the southbound lanes of 169. The SUV was in the median and the driver in need of help, according to Lt. Eric Roeske of the Minnesota State Patrol.
“It appeared that the driver was unresponsive and likely had his foot with the accelerator pressed to the floor, which was causing the rear wheels to spin, and we believe [that] is what ignited the fire,” Roeske said.
But it was the video and sound from the dash camera inside a Maple Grove police cruiser that tells the story of quick-thinking actions that saved a man’s life.
You could hear the SUV idle and tires spinning. Maple Grove Police Officer Jesse Mathwig, assisted by Hennepin County Sheriff Deputy and canine handler Matt Hagen, noticed the driver was unconscious.
It’s hard to see in the video, but you can hear the officer hit the window repeatedly with a tool. You then hear relief in his voice when the window actually shatters.
Sgt. Jeff Garland says the window couldn’t have shattered soon enough.
“Officer Mathwig had told me once they finally were able to shatter the window, the back end, entire back end is now going up in flames,” Garland said.
Aure was taken to North Memorial Medical Center and then transported to HCMC, where he is listed in critical but stable condition.
Rachel Aure, the driver’s daughter, later thanked Mathwig and Hagen for saving her father’s life.
“It’s amazing to me that people risk their lives to save other people’s lives, and that’s really what they did,” Aure said. “They saved his life.”