THREE Essex Police officers from Grays and Chigwell who battled to save the life of a man trapped inside a burning vehicle have won a bravery award.
Temporary Inspector Rebecca Lee, PC Larry Litchfield, and PC Scott Thomas attended a road accident in July 2018 after a driver hit a tree.
When officers arrived at the scene near Tilbury Docks, the vehicle was ablaze with the driver trapped inside.
After PC Litchfield attempted to extinguish the fire with his onboard fire extinguisher, he decided to flag down a tanker in order to use the larger extinguishers they carry.
T/Insp Lee and PC Thomas arrived and assisted PC Litchfield with his attempts to put out the increasing flames.
The officers made a number of attempts to try and rescue the driver but unfortunately, they were unable to get close enough to the vehicle as it became too hot and dangerous.
Despite the best efforts of all three officers, the driver died at the scene.
PC Litchfield says it was a bittersweet moment to be nominated for the award due to the ending, he also added:
“I’m one of those that will just deal with whatever I’ve got in front of me and I’ll just assess it when I get there.
“I’ve never come across a fire that close up before, and how powerful it was. You just feel a little bit helpless that you can’t get this guy out. I stood in the carriageway, waving my arms, trying to stop a tanker from coming down and thinking that they’ve got a fire extinguisher and it would be quite a big one.
“I managed to get the tanker to stop. I went over to the car and tried to put the fire out. We still couldn’t get close enough and the fire extinguisher still wasn’t doing too much. We just couldn’t get to him.”
Essex Police Federation Chair Laura Heggie says that all the officers showed great courage in trying to save the man’s life.
“It was a horrifying scene for these officers to come across, the car was absolutely engulfed in flames and they did all they could to try and save the man’s life. Sadly, on this occasion there was not a better outcome,” Laura continued.
“Police officers are much more than crime fighters and this trio were acting in the best traditions of Essex Police Officers.”
T/Insp Lee and PCs Litchfield and Thomas will attend the first-ever Essex Police Federation Bravery Awards – which will combine celebrating 2020 and 2021 winners – this September. Overall winners for both years will be announced and they will go on to compete in the National Police Bravery Awards.