By Laura Phillips
NORTHGLENN, Colo. (CBS4) – Flanked by an American flag and words like Commitment and Courage, four Northglenn Police officers were given Outstanding Acts of Service Awards on Tuesday.
On March 15, Officers Lindsey Queiser, Patrick Toelle, Ibrahim Yasin and Chad Reffel responded to an accident on Interstate 25. When they arrived, they found a car flipped over on its hood, with flames shooting from the undercarriage.
Bill Yohn was behind the wheel. “I actually don’t remember a lot except waking up understanding ‘oh my gosh my car is upside down, and I’m trapped inside the car,’” Yohn said.
Yohn tried to kick out the window, but he was unsuccessful. He called 911 and waited for help.
Reffel and Toelle were the first on the scene.
“I ran up to the vehicle and observed a foot sticking out of the driver’s side window, and I grabbed the foot and was trying to get the attention of the driver,” said Reffel. “I was getting no verbal response, but I could feel his ankle flexing so I knew he was still alive.”
Toelle retrieved a fire extinguisher as Yasin got into the car through the rear passenger window. Yasin said he was trying to move Yohn, who was in pain. He told him if he didn’t move then, he’d end up in a lot more pain.
“I don’t know if he realized how much danger he was in, but when I said that it kind of kicked him into gear,” Yasin said. “He started assisting me and kicking his feet out and pushing off of stuff to help me get him out of the car.”
Yasin and Reffel were able to pull the driver to safety, just in time.
“We started dragging him away, and we were maybe 10 feet away and we turned around and looked at the car had completely engulfed,” Yasin said.
Yohn later wrote a letter expressing his gratitude, and said he feels like he’s been given a second chance at life.
“What struck me was that training, professionalism, commitment and bravery all played a role in pulling me out that car when I was trapped, “ Yohn said. “We are fortunate to live in a state like Colorado where we have such brave people who can help us when we’re in trouble.”
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Reffel has been a police officer for less than two years. He said he was blown away when he learned he was getting the Outstanding Act of Service Award.
“We signed up to do this job,” Reffel said. “We signed up to make a difference and on that night we got to make a difference, and we got to save a life.”
It’s a sentiment echoed by Yasin.
“I think everything worked out just as it should have,” Yasin said. “Mr. Yohn is okay. He’s alive. None of us got hurt. How could you ask for anything better? It worked out perfectly.”
Yasin says he couldn’t ask for a better team to help out that night.
“In my four years I would say that event meant more to me than almost anything I’ve done to impact someone’s life that way,” Yasin said.
Laura Phillips produces CBS4 News at 10 and various special projects. She has been producing news in Denver since 2006. Follow her on Twitter @LA_Phillips.