On Sunday, January 29, 2017, at approximately 3:30 a.m., M/Cpl. Don Kabala of the Charles County Sheriff’s Office was in the parking lot of an auto dealership in the 2900 block of Crain Highway in Waldorf assisting the Maryland State Police with a DWI arrest when he heard a collision nearby.
M/Cpl. Kabala pulled out of the parking lot and headed north on Crain Highway where he observed an SUV in the median and on fire – the SUV had struck a pole and the front of the vehicle was completely engulfed in flames. M/Cpl. Kabala grabbed his agency-issued fire extinguisher, ran toward the SUV and attempted to extinguish the fire. However, the fire continued, even after the fire extinguisher was depleted. M/Cpl. Kabala opened the car door and noticed a man on the passenger side who was semi-conscious. He attempted to check for other occupants, but he was unable to see due to heavy smoke. At that time, Pfc. Eric Scuderi and Pfc. Christopher Morris arrived. As M/Cpl. Kabala started using another fire extinguisher to keep the flames from reaching the occupant, Pfc. Morris opened the driver’s door and noticed the man unable to move. He entered the burning SUV and attempted to extract the man, but the man’s legs were pinned under the dashboard. Pfc. Morris was able to free the man’s legs as Pfc. Scuderi entered the SUV through the rear driver’s-side door. Together, both officers gathered their strength and pulled the man to safety. M/Cpl. Kabala entered the burning car one final time to make sure no one else was inside. Members of the Waldorf VFD, Company 3, arrived, extinguished the fire, and treated the man who was flown to a hospital. He suffered multiple injuries that were later determined to be non life-threatening.
Further investigation revealed the occupant who was rescued was indeed the driver – a 32-year-old male from Clinton – who had been thrown across the front seat upon impact and was pinned on the passenger side.
“I’m proud of these officers for taking quick actions to rescue the driver,” said Sheriff Troy D. Berry. “They did what officers often do in dangerous situations and set aside any fear they may have had and helped save this man.”