By Jim Newell
An Orion Township man’s high-speed flight from authorities early Sunday morning ended in a fiery car crash from which he couldn’t escape.
And the 18-year-old man has the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office deputy from whom he was fleeing to thank for saving his life.
The incident began about 2:30 a.m. Jan. 28 while the deputy, on routine patrol, spotted a 2007 Chrysler 300 speeding northbound on Baldwin Road near Brown Road.
The deputy made a U-turn and attempted to catch up to the vehicle, observing the reckless driver as he continued northbound on Baldwin and then westbound on Maybee Road, according to an incident report from the OCSO Orion Township Substation.
The deputy activated his patrol vehicle’s emergency lights and siren but the fleeing car accelerated and sped away.
The deputy then spotted the car in a heavily wooded area off a curve in the road.
“The vehicle had left the roadway and collided with several trees, coming to rest on the driver’s side, trapping the man,” said Lt. Dan Toth, commander of the Orion Township Substation, in the report.
From the police cruiser’s dash cam video – forwarded to The Review by the OCSO – the deputy, a 26-year police veteran, can be heard telling police dispatch, “He went into the woods, he’s on fire. Give me (the) fire (department) in route,” just before he races to the wreckage.
“Sir, I don’t know what happened,” the suspect says as the deputy approaches the vehicle.
The deputy had to smash out the sunroof window to “pull the incapacitated driver from the burning vehicle.”
The driver – who is 6-feet-2-inches tall and weighs 240 pounds – was the lone occupant of the vehicle.
As the deputy pulled the man through the sunroof window, the man can be heard screaming in pain, saying his leg is broken. “Oh, thank you, sir,” the man says as the deputy drags him away from the flaming Chrysler.
Two more sheriff’s deputies arrive on scene and help drag the man further away from the crash site just seconds before the car becomes fully engulfed in flames.
Deputies reported they could smell alcohol and marijuana coming from the driver and the vehicle.
“This is a reminder of the types of incidents our Deputies can encounter each and every day,” said Sheriff Michael J. Bouchard. “While our Deputy had been in pursuit of this speeding suspect, it was their first instinct to risk their own lives to save this individual from a burning vehicle. If not for the quick action of our Deputies, this individual may have not survived this incident.”
The Orion Township Fire Department treated the man’s lower body for injuries and doused the burning wreck and the man was taken to McLaren Hospital in Pontiac for “an apparent broken leg along with other injuries,” Toth said.
Deputies got a search warrant for blood sample and released the man – who was admitted to the hospital for his injuries – pending blood test results. An evidence technician processed the accident scene and criminal charges are pending against the man once the investigation concludes.
The Chrysler 300 was impounded and towed to a secure area for further examination.