Two officers from the Los Angeles Police Department’s (LAPD) Hollywood Area are being commended for their quick action and life saving heroism early Monday morning. On June 27, 2011, at around 7:30 a.m., LAPD Officer Michael Kim and partner, Officer Jimmy Lam, were near Santa Monica Boulevard and Western Avenue helping fellow Officers with traffic control in aftermath of a Hit and Run Traffic Collision there. Unrelated to the traffic collision, Officer Kim saw a Dodge Caravan stopped at a nearby traffic light with heavy black smoke coming from underneath it.
Officer Kim alerted his partner to the smoke and both Officers began walking towards the Caravan. As they neared the van the bellowing smoke turned to flames. Officers Lam and Kim immediately requested Los Angeles City Fire Department (LAFD) personnel to respond to put out the fire, and jumped into action to get the occupants out of the van. The van’s driver was unaware and confused about the Officer’s actions and could not hear them giving her directions to get out, because the windows were closed. Officer Lam and Kim began pounding on the windows to alert the driver to the danger, but overwhelmed and confused the driver accidentally locked herself in the car, preventing Officer’s from getting to her.
Once the toxic black smoke began filling the inside of the van, the driver realized the grave danger she was in and was able to unlock the doors, but still unable to free herself from the vehicle because she was still strapped in her seatbelt. After both Officers’ efforts to unlock the seatbelt failed, Officer Kim used his pocket knife to cut away the seatbelt, allowing Officer Lam to pull the driver to safety. After safely removing the driver, Officer Lam saw a child seat in the rear seat and began to go back inside to rescue a child, but was told there was not a child in the car.
Without hesitation and putting their own safety at risk, both Officers worked to remove the driver from the van, even as they were being exposed to extreme danger from the toxic thick smoke and hot flames engulfing the vehicle. Officer Lam and Officer Kim used fire extinguishers from their police vehicles to fight the fire until LAFD arrived and put the stubborn fire out. It was later discovered that the driver had been having mechanical problems with the van, and had smelled gasoline after filling her tank that morning. The driver was very grateful for the Officers efforts and believes that had it not been for their brave and selfless action, she would not have survived the ordeal. For further information please contact Media Relations Section at 213-486-5910.