DPS hero saves crash victims from flames

A group of Department of Public Safety officers and a Marquette employee have been credited with responding to a deadly crash in a neighborhood to the northwest of campus, extinguishing the resulting fire and rescuing two people involved in the accident. The crash claimed the life of a 27-year-old Milwaukee woman.

DPS officer Daniel Hernandez was on patrol Friday when a woman flagged him down on North 20th Street and directed him to the intersection of North 20th Street and West Highland Avenue, where a school bus and Chevrolet Suburban had collided. By the time Hernandez arrived on the scene, both of the vehicles were smoldering, with some flames already visible in the Suburban.

Hernandez blocked traffic with his patrol car and called the Milwaukee Fire Department and the DPS dispatcher before heading to the bus, where he heard cries for help coming from a woman and an approximately 6-year-old boy trapped inside the smoldering vehicle.

Hernandez was able to remove the bus’s crushed door and remove the boy, who was carried away by a male Marquette employee who had observed the crash and followed Hernandez to the scene of the accident. After securing the boy, Hernandez returned to the bus and rescued the female bus driver, who stated she was unable to move.

After the two were rescued, the other DPS officers who had responded to Hernandez’s call controlled the smoldering from both vehicles using fire extinguishers, and were able to completely douse any flames before the arrival of the fire department.

Hernandez and the unnamed employee who had assisted him were unavailable for comment Monday. Hernandez, 27, is a two-and-a-half year veteran of DPS. Before coming to Marquette, Hernandez had served in the Marines.

DPS Capt. Russ Shaw said the actions of the DPS officers, and especially Hernandez, were outstanding and reflected well on DPS’s role in the neighborhood. Shaw also said he could not release the name of the Marquette employee without the employee’s permission.

“Being that it was out of our patrol area, being that you had two vehicles that possibly could have burst into flames at any moment, getting two people off the bus the way they did, I think it was a great job,” Shaw said. “All our officers did a really great job on this and we are certainly very proud of them and I think it reflects very highly on our training that they totally reacted and responded and did what they needed to do.”