In May 2014, Trooper James D. Whitmore responded to a multi-vehicle crash that included a tractor trailer versus passenger car on I-75 in Marion County. Upon his arrival, he found that the driver was unable to open the door or lower the window as the electrical system was inoperative. Three small children were trapped in the back seat.
Trooper Whitmore climbed onto the vehicle and forced the window down with his feet, and then assisted the driver out of the vehicle.
The engine compartment then caught fire, and Trooper Whitmore had another trooper bring a fire extinguisher to him. He unsuccessfully attempted to extinguish the fire. As the passenger compartment filled up with smoke, he used the fire extinguisher to break the right front window to allow the children to breath.
Trooper Whitmore exhorted the bystanders to provide additional fire extinguishers. One bystander provided a cooler which he and the trooper utilized to scoop dirt onto the fire to keep it from spreading. Arriving officers and other motorists provided fire extinguishers to the trooper to continue to keep the fire under control.
Trooper Whitmore fought the fire for approximately ten minutes until the arrival of Marion County Fire Rescue units, who were quickly able to extinguish the fire and extricate the children from the back seat.
The heroic actions of the trooper prevented the fire from spreading to the passenger compartment, which resulted in no additional injuries to the children trapped in the vehicle. Trooper Whitmore placed himself at great risk of injury to preserve the lives of the three children. According to the sergeant at the scene, the driver of the vehicle credited Trooper Whitmore’s actions with saving the lives of the children.