HEROIC RESCUE: Teen Trapped in Burning Car

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An Urbandale teenager is in serious condition at Mercy Hospital, but he is alive thanks to the quick actions of an Urbandale police officer.

Officer Zack McDowell was only a few blocks away from Urbandale Baptist Church when the call came in about a car fire in the parking lot Sunday around 10:30 p.m. When he got there, the car was already engulfed in flames. The flames were too big to fight, even with a fire extinguisher, so Officer McDowell just ignored them, as he ran into the burning car to check if anyone was in there.

“The vehicle was filled with smoke from the floor boards up to the ceiling of the car, so I broke out the side window, still couldn't see anything,” said McDowell, “Everything happened so fast it’s just like, I’m running out of air because I`m running out of breath, I just grabbed what I could and pulled as hard as I could and as fast as I could to get him out of there.”

The driver, 18-year-old Ian Waseskuk was not wearing his seatbelt, and came out on Officer McDowell’s first pull. According to police, Waseskuk had been doing "doughnuts" in the parking lot of Urbandale Baptist Church. Police said he lost control of the car and struck an air conditioning unit, which set his car on fire. Police say there was $10,000 worth of damage done to the church, and Waseskuk’s car is a total loss.

Iowa State senior Nick Schroeder was riding along with Officer McDowell that night, and assisted with the accident. He's an intern with the Urbandale police. He said the only thing going through his mind was making sure the driver was okay. He also said the experience just solidified for him the fact he wants to be a police officer himself one day.

Police say Waseskuk will be charged with reckless driving when he is released from the hospital.


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