ENERGY, IL (KFVS) - A Heartland police officer finally gets the chance to say thank you to the people who saved his life on Halloween night.
Aaron Anderson, 22, was on patrol Halloween night when his shift suddenly ended in head-on collision on Illinois 148.
"A minivan traveling southbound crossed the center line and struck his patrol car head-on," said Energy Chief of Police Shawn Ladd. "It immediately pinned his leg underneath the dash. A majority of the engine compartment of the squad car was compressed up into the passenger compartment. And very shortly after impact the car burst into flames."
Some of the first people on the crash scene were Joe and Rosemary Doss of Marion, Illinois.
"We had just returned from a trip to Houston. And we were heading over to our daughter's house to get our dog,"said Rosemary Doss.
"We didn't see the crash, but we heard it."
As Rosemary rushed toward the burning police car, Joe started flagging down drivers to warn them about the crash.
"When I thought the cars that approached me saw me, then I ran over to the officer. And I noticed there were flames under his car," said Joe Doss.
The husband and wife quickly teamed up with Daniel Flores of Energy and Tyler Drake of Carterville to begin freeing Officer Anderson and the two other people who were trapped in the van that had hit him.
"I was pulling on that door. And when I got it opened a little bit, I just kicked it open and asked the officer if he was okay," said Rosemary.
"I told the officer you need to get out of the car now, but he couldn't," said Joe.
"I didn't know if he was impaired or if he was tight from the crunching of the car. I just grabbed him out. I got him far enough away from the car so if it exploded, I thought he would be okay."
The quick actions of the Doss' and the two other men, along with their disregard for their own safety, is what makes them heroes in Chief Ladd's eyes.
"It is my belief that if they had not been there, and had they not taken the risk that Officer Anderson very well could have lost his life," said Chief Ladd.
"A lot of people will stop and maybe give their name. Or maybe they want to stop to see what's going on. But it takes a certain caliber of person to disregard their own safety and approach a burning vehicle. And then pull someone out of it."
Tuesday night during the Energy City Council meeting, Officer Anderson and his fellow officers had the chance to thank the people who saved his life.
"It takes courage for anybody to help anybody," said Officer Anderson. "And as a paid police officer you don't expect someone to come out and help you. And they did it out of the goodness of their heart. And from the bottom of my heart I appreciate everything they've done for me."
Officer Anderson is expected to make a full recovery from his broken hip and pelvis. He's hoping to be able to return to his duties as a police officer in the coming year.
He's already served a tour in Iraq fighting for his country.