Heroism Caught on Camera - ABC5 News Des Moines, IA

Heroism Caught on Camera

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By Ron Marasco



Urbandale Police Officer Zac McDowell got a call Sunday night.  A car was on fire next to the Urbandale Baptist Church on Aurora Avenue. 

"I saw the smoke rolling across Aurora Avenue," said McDowell.  "So I knew there was an active fire and when I rolled up, the whole front of the vehicle was engulfed in flames."

Eighteen year–old Ian Waseskuk from Urbandale was apparently doing doughnuts in the church parking lot around 10:30 p.m. and lost control of his 1995 Buick. He rammed into the building's air conditioning unit and it started on fire.

Dash cam video taken from his patrol car tells the rest of the story.

McDowell explains, as he watches the video, that first he peered into the car through the smoke.

"Absolutely nothing!" says McDowell.  "The smoke is from the floorboard of the vehicle up to the roof and you can't see anything."

Braving the smoke, Officer McDowell and his intern Nick Schroeder try to pull the semi–conscious Waseskuk from the fiery wreck.

"That smoke is so thick," said McDowell.  "If I would have got a good breath of that I probably would have went down, so you just got to give it everything you got and get it done first try because you may not get a second."

"If we had been just probably like a few minutes later, I don't know if we would have had the same outcome," said Schroeder.

On the video we see McDowell yanking the teen from the burning car and dragging him to safety.

McDowell says he does not feel like a hero: "You're given a situation and you just have to do whatever you have to do to resolve it and make sure you get the best outcome."

"(I) Feel good we were able to respond in time and get him out before he died or got any further injuries," said Schroeder.

For Nick Schroeder, an Iowa State student, his dream is to be a police officer.  He's been going on occasional ride–alongs with the Urbandale Police Dept. for the last two months.

"I always wanted to do a job where I was helping other people out," said Schroeder. "Being there to assist them in their time of need."

"Some people think we're just out to take people to jail or write speeding tickets, and stuff like that," said McDowell.  "But really at the heart of it, it's because you want to help people."

Ian Waseskuk is currently at Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines.  A Medical Center spokesperson says he's in serious but stable condition.  He will be charged with reckless driving once he's released.

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