Could not authenticate you.followers
For patrol officers Michael Kim and Jimmy Lam, of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Hollywood Division, many days are spent answering routine calls for service, issuing citations, writing reports and completing other mundane tasks.
But on Monday morning, Kim and Lam were in the right place at the right time to prevent a motorist from burning in a car fire, and the officers will now be considered for the LAPD’s Medal of Valor.
Kim and Lam were handling an unrelated vehicle collision near the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Western Avenue around 7:15 a.m. on June 20 when they noticed a vehicle stopped in the westbound lanes with heavy smoke and flames emanating from its undercarriage. When the officers ran over to assist the female motorist, she was apparently unaware that anything was wrong. Lam and Kim tried to tell her to get out of the car because it was on fire, but at first she panicked and refused to open the door. After the officers persuaded her to open the door, the driver became entangled in the seatbelt, requiring Kim to cut it away and pull her to safety as other officers arrived and attempted unsuccessfully to extinguish the flames.
“We banged on the window but she was scared and didn’t know what to do. She had about thirty seconds until the fire would have consumed the interior,” Kim said. “We tried putting out the fire, but every time we thought we had it under control, the flames flared up again. I used my pocketknife to cut the seatbelt. After using six fire extinguishers, we had to give up.”
The motorist, who was identified as Payon Lewis, was not injured, but the car was completely destroyed, according to Sgt. Enrique Mendoza, of the Hollywood Division. Authorities did not know the cause of the fire. Mendoza said Lewis told him that the vehicle, an older model Dodge Caravan, had recently been serviced, but she had not noticed any problems leading up to the fire.
“She was very grateful and thankful to the officers,” Mendoza said. “I think she just didn’t know what to do and didn’t know what the officers were trying to tell her.”
The vehicle fire closed Santa Monica Boulevard for approximately one hour. Commander Andrew Smith, assistant commanding officer for the LAPD’s Operation West Bureau, called the officers’ actions “heroic.”
“Here you have two guys out there just doing their job and suddenly an emergency pops up, and they immediately spring into action,” Smith added. “If thirty more seconds would have gone by, we would have been talking about a tragic loss of life. We are really proud of them.”
Smith added that the officers will be considered for a Medal of Valor for the rescue. The medals are awarded each May, and are the highest commendations given by the LAPD.
Kim and Lam, who have been with the LAPD for four years and have been assigned as partners at the Hollywood Division for more than two years, are no strangers to acting quickly. On Christmas Eve 2009, they responded to a call about a man threatening to commit suicide by jumping from a bridge over the Hollywood (101) Freeway in the Cahuenga Pass, and convinced him to come down and get help. They were honored as the division’s “Officers of the Year” in 2010 for that incident.
“We were just doing our job,” Lam added about the car fire. “We noticed her life was in danger, and we did what we are trained to do.”
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.