San Antonio police Officer German Huerta has become the department’s second officer this month to receive special honors for rescuing a driver from a burning car.
Police Chief William McManus presented the three-year veteran officer with a certificate of merit during a news conference Monday morning.
“The San Antonio Police Department has no shortage of heroes,” McManus said. “He went above and beyond the call of duty.”
Huerta said he was driving west on Loop 1604 shortly before 5 a.m. Saturday when he noticed a car speed past him. A few minutes later, he said, the car crashed on the highway near Judson Road and burst into flames. Huerta jumped into action, working to free the then-unconscious woman behind the wheel.
“I didn't want to see her burn alive in front of me, so I wasn't thinking too much,” Huerta said. “I just wanted to pull her out.”
"I think when she started getting burned is when she had woke up, and I was still trying to pull her out at that time,” he said “All she was doing was crying and yelling for help."
Huerta said it took several tries before he finally broke out a window using a fire extinguisher. A flashlight that he had in his hand melted from the heat.
“I’m very proud. I was scared and nervous,” said Huerta’s wife, Leslie, who also attended the award presentation.
She said even though her husband -- who served two tours of duty in Iraq while in the military -- has been in dangerous situations before, she was still rattled by the early morning phone call from him.
"The first thing he said to me was, 'Don't worry, don't panic.” He said, ‘I'm calling you because I'm OK,'" Leslie Huerta said. "He kept repeating, 'Don't worry, don't worry. I'm fine.' And so I knew he was OK when I talked to him."
The 30-year-old officer suffered some smoke inhalation as well as minor burns on his hands. The driver, who police identified as Sara Silva, 18, also suffered burns.
Police said they suspect Silva had been drinking, but they’re awaiting the results of toxicology tests before charging her.
Huerta is the second SAPD officer to be honored as a hero this month.
On Nov. 3, Sgt. Jesse Garcia pulled two teenage girls from a burning car on Loop 1604 near Sulfur Springs Road. He was awarded a certificate of merit two days later.