Dash cam

Off-duty Dallas officer shares dashcam video of flaming rescue

Agent Henry Vargas’ quick thinking saved a woman from a burning van on the freeway.

DALLAS, Texas — The usual comeback from work for Henry Vargas turned out to be anything but. September 28. Vargas is an officer with the Dallas County Hospital Police Department.

When the off-duty officer returned home last Tuesday on Interstate 30, Vargas stumbled upon the unexpected. This put him in a situation where he acted on natural instincts as a law enforcement officer.

RELATED: Good Samaritan pulls woman out of her truck moments before it bursts into flames on the freeway, police say

“I was driving about 30 and suddenly in front of me I saw an explosion, a ball of fire,” Vargas explained.

This fireball turned out to be a car accident. There is video that also shows a trail of fire on interstate video recorded by Vargas’ dash cam in his personal car. Vargas stopped immediately and in the same video from his dash cam, you can see him running towards danger as fast as he could towards the burning vehicle.

The truck was stuck in the eastbound lanes of the East RL Thornton Freeway near Jim Miller Road. Police at the scene said Mike Forbes, WFAA Photojournalist that the driver was calling for help and that her truck had been hit by other vehicles.

“I ran to the truck and noticed there was still a woman inside,” Vargas said.

Amidst the flames, Vargas could see the expression on the trapped woman’s face and desperately tried to open the doors.

“I tried to open the driver’s side door, but it was stuck,” Vargas said, “I ran to the passenger side which was also stuck.”

Vargas noticed that the woman inside the truck was probably too injured to escape on her own. He could see inside the cabin of his van which had suffered part of the impact after being hit from behind by another vehicle. Vargas was able to look the woman in the face.

“There was just something about her appearance. She was so scared,” Vargas said.

It was a fear that eventually motivated Vargas to act quickly. While trying to get into the woman’s truck, he remembered that he had an emergency rescue tool in his personal vehicle. During an interview about the incident, Vargas demonstrated how he used his “glass-breaking tool” on the truck as the flames increased from second to second, along with the smoke.

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

Vargas entered the burning van and rescued the woman.

She told him that she was in pain, but could not easily describe all of her injuries.

Vargas thinks she may have been shocked. He also shared that after pulling her to save her with the help of others, the flames completely engulfed the truck about a minute after the daring rescue.

It’s unclear what led to the truck getting stuck or setting it on fire, but the sheriff’s office was still investigating.