GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - An off-duty Arlington police sergeant helped pull people out of a burning van after crash on Interstate 30 early Friday morning.
The officer made quick decisions to get involved, even though he was not within his jurisdiction.
The accident happened around 5 a.m. on westbound I-30 near the Loop 12 exit in Grand Prairie.
Arlington police said Sgt. Michael Chitty saw a car driving erratically and thought the driver was possibly drunk. He was getting ready to call it in when the car slammed into a van carrying four people.
The van flipped on its side and caught fire.
"I believe I could've been placed in the right place at the right time in order to help,” Chitty said.
No denying Chitty is a humble servant, and his keen sense for identifying trouble while driving his personal vehicle to work Friday morning helped save lives from the fiery crash.
"I was in my uniform, but I did not have my duty belt on. Had my radio and duty belt in my passenger seat. I grabbed my radio, called out the accident so our dispatch could get with Grand Prairie dispatch and dispatch fire trucks and ambulances," he recalled.
A small fire underneath the van was growing. The four people trapped inside started to break windows and crawl out.
"They were all injured to a degree. They couldn't move very easily, in obvious pain. I kept telling them we need to get further away from the van just in case there was any kind of explosion,” Chitty said.
The four victims were taken to the hospital in an unknown condition.
Sgt. Chitty also helped officers track down the suspect after causing the crash. He says he made a quick decision when the suspected intoxicated driver began to run from the scene.
"One, I'm not in my city. Two, I'm just on the radio announcing that I'm at an accident in a city that is not my jurisdiction. There's a lot going on and you have to make a decision about hierarchy. So I BOLO'ed his description and just let him run,” Chitty said.
Grand Prairie police officers were able to catch 23-year-old Jesus Gutierrez and arrest him. He faces multiple charges related to the fiery crash, and police say they found drugs in his vehicle.
Even though he helped save four lives, Chitty downplayed his involvement.
"There’s a task at hand, and you've got to make sure you get it done," he concluded.
The accident caused major traffic delays on I-30 during the morning rush hour.