Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Deputy's quick thinking saves accident victim from burning car

NEW PORT RICHEY — Edward Whalen was trapped.

Veering off the road to avoid another driver, his car had slammed into a power pole and flipped onto its side. The silver hatchback's engine compartment burst into flames. His car filled with the black smoke of scorched metal.

Whalen, 63, doesn't usually carry his cell phone. But while driving about 2 a.m. Saturday in a city far from home, he had it with him. He frantically dialed 911, then his girlfriend back in New York, then 911 again. The fire was dancing at the windshield, and all he could do was call.

Pasco sheriff's Deputy Kelly Endricks was a mile away, searching for two theft suspects when the dispatcher called his radio. Endricks flipped on his lights and siren. He sped toward Scenic Drive.

He made it in two minutes, but was alone. The fire was spreading quickly. The pole had collapsed across the car, scattering live electrical lines. Endricks could hear the wires hum.

He ran to the back window, grabbing his steel baton. He thumped it through the glass, but Whalen was still too far away. He couldn't pull Whalen through the opening.

That's when Endricks noticed the sunroof. He ran to it, and swung the baton like a golf club. It bounced. He swung again, and the glass shattered. Black smoke burst into Endricks' face. He threw the baton to the ground.

Endricks could hear Whalen talking on the phone.

"They're here!" Whalen shouted. "They're here!"

Endricks yelled back, in commands that reminded him of the police academy.

"Let's go," he said. "Let's move it!"

Endricks grabbed Whalen, all of 6-foot-2 and more than 200 pounds, and pulled. He kept tugging at the much taller man and, finally, Whalen was out.

Endricks walked him across the street to the back of the Home Depot. When he looked the back, the inside of the car was filled with flames.

Emergency workers treated Whalen at the scene. He had breathed in a lot of smoke and suffered a few minor injuries, but was okay. Endricks was unharmed, except for a scrape on his right thumb.

A two-year patrol deputy and former Dade City police officer, Endricks had never rescued someone from a burning car. He waited at the scene as crews doused the flames and killed the power lines. Then, he drove off to file paperwork.

He later retrieved his baton, its foam handle melted. He joked with a few deputies that he might be in trouble for damaging county property. He said he might mount it on his wall.

At 5:30 a.m., his 12-hour shift ended. He went home to Port Richey, downed some Nyquil to fight off a cold and fell asleep. He awoke to text messages and Facebook posts, his friends all calling him a hero. His children, Brittany, 12, and Jonathan, 7, were excited, too. Jonathan looked up the news stories on a cell phone.

He wrote back to everyone, thanking them for their support. But he also said something else.

"We do heroic things like this every day," he said. "They just go unnoticed."

At 5 p.m. Saturday, he headed back on patrol.

This story is based on Deputy Kelly Endricks' description of the incident and information from the Pasco County Sheriff's Office. Contact Drew Harwell at (727) 869-6244 or dharwell@sptimes.com.

Deputy's quick thinking saves accident victim from burning car 02/12/11 [Last modified: Saturday, February 12, 2011 9:15pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa man turns himself in for Sunday hit and run fatality

    Public Safety

    A Tampa man was arrested early Sunday after he struck and killed a pedestrian, left the scene, and then called 911 to turn himself in.

  2. Tom Jones' Two Cents: Bucs, Jaguars both get blame for terrible preseason ratings

    TV and Radio

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst of a weekend in televised sports.

    Worst matchup

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) tries to get past Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Brian Dixon (41) and safety Barry Church (42) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack) JVS119
  3. Hernando County Sheriff's Office: Deputies shoot suicidal woman who brandished shotgun

    Crime

    BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County Sheriff's deputies shot a woman they believed to be suicidal after she pointed a shotgun at them Sunday, according to a police report.

  4. Trump administration disbands federal advisory committee on climate change

    National

    WASHINGTON - The Trump administration has decided to disband the federal advisory panel for the National Climate Assessment, a group aimed at helping policymakers and private-sector officials incorporate the government's climate analysis into long-term planning.

    President Donald Trump. [Associated Press]
  5. Blake Snell shines as Rays beat Mariners to end skid (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Blake Snell delivered the best outing of his young career and the Rays offense continued its home run-hitting ways for a 3-0 victory Sunday against the Mariners in front of 13,354 at Tropicana Field.

    Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (3) with starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) after the top of the seventh inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017.