Lifestyle & Human Interest

'Ball of Fire': Woman Trapped in Burning Wreckage Until Off-Duty Officer Spots Her


As Henry Vargas was headed home on Sept. 27, he came across an unexpected sight.

He’d been traveling along Interstate 30 in Dallas when he spotted a wreck strewn across the lanes of traffic before him.

“I was driving on 30 and suddenly in front of me I see an explosion, a ball of fire,” Vargas said, according to WFAA-TV.

A truck had stalled on the freeway and two other vehicles had rammed into it, sending the collapsed remains spewing fluids across lanes of traffic and quickly catching on fire.

Thankfully, Vargas was trained in emergency response: He is an officer with the Dallas County District Hospital Police Department.

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He immediately pulled over, jumped out of his vehicle and ran to help.

As Vargas approached, he realized that someone was trapped inside the crumpled truck.

“I ran towards the truck, and I noticed that there was a woman still inside,” he said.

“I tried to open the driver-side door, but it was jammed shut. I ran to the passenger side which was also jammed shut.”

As Vargas tried without success to open the doors, the woman inside — clearly injured — was screaming for help. The terror was clear in her eyes, and it struck the good Samaritan.

“There was just something about her look,” he said. “She was in so much fear.”

“The smoke was getting thicker. And I got a good whiff of it, and I just knew I need to get her out now before we were all engulfed in flames.”

Vargas ran back to his car to retrieve his glass-breaking tool and quickly got back and smashed the window on the truck’s passenger side door. With help from a few bystanders, he managed to get the woman free.

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The woman was taken to the hospital. While she is still hospitalized, she is stable and expected to recover, KDFW-TV reported Monday.

Now that the dashcam video of the rescue has been circulated, many are calling Vargas a hero, but he said he was just happy to help. He also pointed out that if the bystanders hadn’t helped him, the story could have turned out very differently.

“I needed that extra help to get that passenger door open,” he told KDFW.

“The word ‘hero’ has been thrown out there, but I definitely don’t see myself as one. I’m just very glad and thankful that I was able to do something at that moment to help that woman.”

The police department also recognized the officer’s actions, commending him for his quick thinking.

“Last week while off-duty, Officer Henry Vargas saved a woman from a burning vehicle,” the Dallas County Hospital District Police Department posted on Monday.

“Great job, Officer Vargas! We are proud of you!”

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