Minneapolis police officers Krystle Fallon and Ryan Davis were blocks away when they got a call last Thursday that a Cadillac ATS had plunged off a north Minneapolis overpass onto the freeway below.
By the time they arrived at the scene, flames had consumed the car’s engine and were overtaking its interior, where two people were trapped.
“I yelled to my partner, ‘We have to get these people out now,’ ” Fallon recalled. “It was go time.”
Somehow, Fallon was able to lift and drag the passenger to the roadside.
Then, with the help of two passersby who used knives to cut away the driver’s seat belt and air bag, the two officers were able to get him out as traffic continued to trickle by. Seconds later, the car went up in a fireball.
Driver Floyd Douglas Cunningham, 31, died later at a hospital. His fiancée Lancha Robertson, 37, of Minneapolis, survived the July 27 crash.
On Tuesday, Cunningham’s relatives got to thank, hug and cry with the two officers following a media briefing at the crash scene at the 41st Avenue bridge over I-94, where the two officers shared details about their efforts to rescue the couple.
Davis said his heart was pumping as he went into rescue mode without hesitation.
“I just felt that I would want somebody to do that for me and my [twin toddler] daughters and my wife if we were in that situation,” said the former firefighter, who has been a Minneapolis police officer for two years.
Fallon, who recently got married, said instincts just kicked in. She saw the flames shooting out from under the car’s hood and knew that seconds mattered.
“You can train in certain situations all day, but until you are put in that situation you don’t know what you’re going to do, or if you are going to freeze or how you’ll act under pressure,” said Fallon, who has been with the department for 2½ years. “We do this job to help people, to save people, to protect people. It becomes your identity. There is no thinking. You just do it.”
Excessive speed was a big factor in the crash, officials said. Cunningham had been seen driving at very high speeds before he lost traction and hit the guardrail, said Lt. Tiffani Nielson of the State Patrol.
The crash is under investigation. Cunningham’s family declined to speak with the media at the scene.