ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — After nearly dying in a fiery car crash, a St. Paul man finally got the chance to thank the officers who saved his life.

Ronnie Christmas, 23, was pulled from his burning car during the early morning hours of April 5. He suffered significant injuries, but on Thursday the Maplewood officers who saved him paid him a special visit.

“I just never would have thought of myself to be in this situation,” Christmas said on Thursday.

He doesn’t remember crashing his car or screaming for help while trapped inside, but the burns and broken bones are living proof that it happened.

“When I saw him, I just couldn’t take it, because nothing like this has ever happened to my family or someone this close to me,” said Chantal Jenkins, Christmas’ sister.

“You hear burn unit. You hear your child is on a ventilator and not breathing on their own, it was not good,” said his mother, Vanessa Jenkins.

Christmas has third-degree burns on his lower back and legs. He also has a broken hip socket, and it’ll be weeks before he can walk.

Still, he’s lucky.

Doctors told Christmas that had officers arrived just 30 seconds later, they would have had to amputate his legs. A minute later, and he would have died.

“If it wasn’t for those guys,” Christmas said, “I wouldn’t be here at all.”

Also on Thursday, Christmas and his family got a chance to show his rescuers — officers Clint Abel and Jason Marino — just how thankful they are.

The two made a special visit to Christmas’ room at Regions Hospital.

“There is no words,” said Vanessa Jenkins. “What do you say to someone who has done something like that? I’m just grateful.”

The family gave the officers a special plaque to show their gratitude. But for Abel and Marino, seeing Christmas on the road to recovery was the only gift they needed.

“I hope he gets close to as full a recovery as he can,” Marino said.

Christmas said he was on his way to pick up his girlfriend from work the night he crashed. It’s unclear what caused him to crash, but authorities don’t believe alcohol played a role.

“The biggest thing right now is to just be thankful,” Christmas said, “be thankful I didn’t die in that car.”


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