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Lifestyle & Human Interest

Dash Cam Footage Shows Officer and Good Samaritan Pull Man from Burning Car: 'I'm So Thankful That I'm Alive'

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Aryn Johnson of Norway, Maine, was driving home from work early on March 17 when he lost control of his vehicle and crashed. He couldn’t remember how it happened, telling reporters that one minute he was listening to music, and the next, he was in the hospital.

“I was wide awake when I was driving,” the young man told WGME-TV. “I was listening to my music, my hip hop, just chilling along, and all of a sudden I wake up here.

“I don’t even remember what really caused my crash, just except for what people told me.”

In fact, Johnson said he didn’t even know what his rescuers looked like, since he never saw them, though he told WMTW-TV he faintly recalled a few seconds of panic after the crash. All he knew was what he’d been told and what he’d seen from the dash camera video from the cop who responded to the accident.

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And perhaps it’s better that way, because the crash was horrific and Johnson very well could have died trapped in his burning car. But ever since the police department shared that heartstopping video, many people have become aware of how close Johnson was to eternity.

“In the early hours of March 17, 2021, Officer [Andre] Chasse responded to a motor vehicle crash,” the Mechanic Falls Police Department posted on Facebook. “The operator was entrapped and the vehicle began smoking.

“As Officer Chasse began to try and peel the windshield away from the car, the vehicle ignited into flames. Officer Chasse, with the help of a citizen who was on his way into work, were able to pry the windshield away from the vehicle.”

Since Johnson was injured, Chasse had to not only extract him from the twisted vehicle, but carry him away from the crash site. Johnson knows how blessed he is, despite the broken vertebrae and concussion he sustained.

“I don’t even know what he looks like,” Johnson said of the officer. “I’m blessed that he saved me, though. I … I appreciate him and the person who stopped on the side of the road heading to work to come help me. Because without them, I would have been dead or gone.

“I must have passed out cold when he grabbed me. I saw the video. My feet were down to the floor like I was lifeless. Like God bless you, seriously.”

According to Police Chief Jeffrey Goss, Chasse acted as if the whole thing was just another day on the job.

“He was just like, ‘Yeah, I had to pull the guy out of the vehicle,'” Goss recalled. “And he, you know, didn’t make it seem like it was any big thing. But you know I watched the video and I was just totally impressed with his actions.”

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“Officer Chasse did an outstanding job. Talking with the guy. Keeping him calm. Waiting for fire and rescue. And then they realized the flames started coming up and then it went to rescue right away versus waiting for the fire department.”

Johnson was still deeply grateful for his two rescuers’ assistance when he left the hospital the next day.

“I’m so thankful that I’m alive,” he told WMTW. “Like really, like … It’s unbelievable.

“God bless them … If I can do anything — if I can buy a meal for them, I would love to.”

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking