Having alerted a family of five on Monday their home was on fire, San Antonio police Patrol Officer Jeremy Swindells was honored Thursday by Chief William McManus, who awarded the 13-year veteran with a certificate of merit.
“Congratulations! You did a great job,” McManus told Swindells.
Swindells said on his day off, he was on the way to the movies with his young son and daughter, when he saw the flames coming up the side of a mobile home on Old Corpus Christi Road near Highway 181.
“I slammed on the brakes and through it in reverse and told my kids to stay put,” Swindells said.
He said as he was calling 911 as he yelled if anyone was home.
However, Tami Brown said she didn’t hear him because she had the vacuum cleaner going and the TV blaring, so 2-year-old Katelyn Hidalgo could dance “The Harlem Shake.”
Finally, Swindells said he kicked the front door.
Brown said, “I heard the kick and thought, 'What in the hell?'”
When she opened the door, Brown said she saw Swindells on her porch and the fire behind him.
“That’s when I realized we were in trouble. We were in serious danger,” Brown said.
Her son, Zachery, said, “Who knows how far we would have made it before the fire engulfed the entire house?”
They all escaped safely just as four volunteer fire departments converged on the scene. The cause of the fire remains undetermined.
McManus said this wasn’t the first time Swindells has proved he’s a hero.
In September 2008, Swindells was beaten and later wounded in a backyard shoot-out with two burglary suspects. One was killed, the other arrested.
“Just got to keep going, regardless of what has happened in the past,” Swindells said.
Five years later, Swindells saved an entire family.
“Monday, I called him 'Saint Jeremy' because he definitely was put in our path to make sure we were safe,” Brown said.
Swindells said he did what he hopes anyone would do in that situation.
“I try to set an example for my children,” Swindells said. “So they know what it is to be a good human being.”
After it was all over, Swindells said he and his children still got to see their movie, Oz, the Great and Powerful.
“He certainly is,” Brown said about Swindells.