The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund has selected Senior Police Officer Daniel Whitney, of the Athens-Clarke County (GA) Police Department, as the recipients of its Officer of the Month Award for October 2016.
Located in the nation’s capital, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund is a nonprofit organization dedicated to honoring the service and sacrifice of America’s law enforcement officers.
The Memorial Fund’s Officer of the Month Award Program began in 1996 and recognizes federal, state, and local officers who distinguish themselves through exemplary law enforcement service and devotion to duty.
The driver of the vehicle (who could not be seen until after the flames were extinguished) burned to death in the fire.
Without Whitney’s rescue, the passenger likely would have suffered the same tragic death as the driver, as the backseat was completely melted and gutted within minutes.
Other officers on scene described the heat from the fire as unbearable from 50 feet away.
Senior Police Officer Whitney, along with the other Officer of the Month Award recipients for 2016, will be honored during National Police Week at a special awards ceremony in Washington, DC, in May 2017.
- In the early morning of May 15, 2016, the Athens-Clarke County Police Department received a frantic 911 call from about a car fire on U.S. Highway 29. The caller, who lived in a nearby home, was worried the vehicle, which had crashed into a large tree, would explode.
- Senior Police Officer Daniel Whitney responded to the call and found a passenger of the vehicle partially hanging out of a small rear driver side window. The impact of the accident that caused the fire had bent the frame of the car and the doors were jammed shut.
- “I could tell by the dispatcher’s voice that it was bad, so I headed out there,” SPO Whitney said. “When I arrived, I could see the guy hanging out the window. I retrieved my fire extinguisher and that was little help and knocked it down a little bit.”
- Unsuccessfully with the extinguisher to quell the flames, SPO Whitney called for a water hose from a nearby house. He then used the extinguisher to break rear windows of the car, hoping to give the passenger room to get out, but he was stuck in the small window. As SPO Whitney tried to open the rear hatch of the vehicle, an explosion came from under the hood, signaling that time was running out for the passenger.
- SPO Whitney started to bend the door frame to give the passenger more room to escape, enabling the passenger to slide out of the window with the help of the officer. The passenger was carried to the side of the road by other motorists.
- “Get him out, get him out of the car. That’s pretty much what was going through my mind,” SPO Whitney said. “I couldn’t stand to stand back and watch. You couldn’t live with yourself, I thought, if you do nothing.”
- The fire department arrived a short time later and extinguished the fire. The part of the vehicle that the man had been extracted from was found completely gutted. Officers at the scene described the heat from the fire as “unbearable” from 50 feet away. Unfortunately, the driver of the vehicle did not survive the incident.
(Senior Police Officer Dan Whitney responded to a 3 a.m. highway accident to find an SUV engulfed in flames against a large tree. A man was yelling for help from a small rear driver-side window. Whitney retrieved his fire extinguisher and tried to put out the fire, then began trying to extricate the person trapped in the car. The impact of the accident had bent the frame and all the doors were jammed shut, so Whitney bent the door frame back enough to pull the man through the small rear window. As he was doing this, an explosion from under the hood knocked off his hat and body-worn camera. Courtesy of Athens-Clarke County Police Department and YouTube)
“Had SPO Whitney not put himself in harm’s way and shown exceptional valor in rescuing the passenger, he likely would have suffered the same fiery death as the driver,” said Athens-Clarke County Police Department Lieutenant Christopher Nichols.
“Senior Police Officer Dan Whitney demonstrated the dedication our officers show every day in the line of duty,” Memorial Fund President and CEO Craig W. Floyd said.
“His quick actions saved the life of a man who would’ve died without his help. SPO Whitney is deserving of the November 2016 Officer of the Month Award.”
For more information about the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund’s Officer of the Month Award, visit www.LawMemorial.org/OTM.
Established in 1984, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund is a private non-profit organization dedicated to telling the story of American law enforcement and making it safer for those who serve.
The Memorial Fund built and now operates and maintains the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, DC, which contains the names of 20,789 officers who have died in the line of duty throughout U.S. history.
The Memorial Fund is now building the National Law Enforcement Museum, which will tell the story of American law enforcement through high-tech, interactive exhibitions, historical artifacts and extensive educational programming.