When Bloomington Police Officers Jeff Rees, Matt Gilmore and Dan Coons were called to check on a car accident they had no idea what they were in store for.

"When I was driving up to the scene you could definitely see that the car was on fire. It was really going and you couldn't really see that there was anybody in there, because there was so much smoke inside," explained Officer Gilmore.

Through thick smoke the officers were shocked to find the driver still inside, desperately fighting for his life.

"You could see him inside the vehicle heaving as he was trying to breathe," said Officer Rees.

"The one thing that really stuck with me was hearing him cough inside and just having it go silent," continued Coons. "That just absolutely made me act."

And act he did, immediately using his baton to break the window. But the closer officer Coons got to the burning car the harder it was to stay focused.

"The smoke was extremely thick unlike anything I've ever experienced before. The heat -- I could feel the left side of my face start to burn," said Coons.

As officer's Gilmore and Rees extinguished the growing flames, Coons frantically fumbled for the victim.

"I remember yelling for help. It was mainly because the smoke was so disorienting I didn't know -- I lost control -- I didn't know where I was at and I didn't know if I could get him out."

But the three officers finally did manage to get him out alive, just moments before the car exploded.

"Sometimes it's a thankless job, but we all feel fortunate that we were able to make a difference and see the difference that we made," added Coons.


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Their bravery didn't go unnoticed. Monday night at Conseco Fieldhouse the officers were honored as heroes, capturing the hearts of Hoosiers everywhere. But ask them if they think they're heroes and they'll tell you they were just doing their job.

"We're just glad we were there in the right place at the right time," said Rees.

The victim of the accident -- 40-year-old-Larry Roberts of Bloomington -- was in critical condition, but is now out of the hospital and ii doing fine.