On February 28, 2017, Iowa State Patrol Trooper Dustin Henningsen was working in the Bettendorf area as a vehicle theft officer. He found a vehicle that was on fire in a roadside ditch behind the Econo Lodge at 815 Golden Valley Dr.
Trooper Henningsen called Department of Public Safety communications to notify them of the situation and approached the car to find the driver trapped inside. The vehicle was quickly engulfing in flames.
Trooper Henningsen found the doors to the vehicle locked and had difficulty communicating with the driver. The driver appeared semi-conscious and would not respond to commands.
After updating state radio communications about the situation and notifying them he would need assistance, Trooper Henningsen attempted to break the vehicle’s windows with a crowbar but was unsuccessful.
The fire was intensifying, and Trooper Henningsen became overwhelmed by smoke and had to step away from the vehicle for a moment. After catching his breath, Trooper Henningsen returned to the vehicle with a fire extinguisher but had little impact on the flames.
Trooper Henningsen recognized the urgency of getting the driver out of the vehicle. He was eventually able to break a passenger side window, climb into the vehicle, open a door and remove the driver. Moments later, the vehicle was consumed by flames.
The driver was breathing and suffering from a medical condition that contributed to the vehicle crashing into the ditch where the fire started. Medical personnel arrived and transported the driver to Trinity Hospital for evaluation and treatment.
The driver was eventually discharged and has made a full recovery. Trooper Henningsen was evaluated and treated for smoke inhalation at Trinity Hospital and discharged without further treatment.