VIDEO: SEPTA cop helps save man from burning car

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VIDEO: SEPTA officer saves man from burning car. Vernon Odom reports during Action News at 4:30pm on July 6, 2017. (WPVI)

A SEPTA police officer was the first to arrive on the scene of a crash in Philadelphia, and had to make a dangerous, split-second decision that would save a man's life.

Sgt. Marc Pasquarella spoke out on Thursday about the scary moments that were caught on both his vehicle's dashboard camera and his body camera.

The seven-year veteran is being hailed as a hero for his courage and quick thinking. He and a good Samaritan rescued a badly injured driver from a car already on fire.

"He's just laid out over the passenger seat, he's barely breathing. He was unconscious the whole time," Pasquarella said.

The incident happened along Delaware Avenue just north of the Sugarhouse Casino at 1:15 a.m. on June 30.

A sedan crashed into the back of a sanitation truck. Pasquarella found the driver unconscious with his legs trapped under the console.

The doors were jammed shut, and the jagged edge of a broken window on the driver's side prevented him from reaching in.

Pasquarella, and the good Samaritan, had about 40 seconds to help as the fire grew.

"I kept slipping on the engine oil, and that's what really concerned me. The car is on fire and I'm worried about that catching on engulfing me and the passerby," Pasquarella said.

The good Samaritan who risked his life to help in the rescue is Dr. Murtuza Jaffari. He was away on vacation Thursday, but by phone said "I just did what any responsible person would do."

The victim, whose name has not been released, remains hospitalized in serious condition with injuries to his arms and legs.

"The fire's right there, it's hot, you're just worried - you're thinking in the back of your head - this car is going to blow up any second," Pasquarella said. "It's pretty scary."

Pasquarella was not injured, and he is back on his regular shift patrolling and supervising at SEPTA locations all across town.

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