Norfolk firefighters recount difficult rescue of trapped police officer

Posted at 5:30 PM, Oct 21, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-22 11:36:12-04

Norfolk, Va. (WTKR) - Firefighters who responded to a crash involving a Norfolk Police cruiser with an officer trapped inside say the difficult rescue ranks among the toughest of their careers.

In the early morning hours of Monday, October 19, 2015 Norfolk Police Officers Joshua Miller and Ademola Titcombe were in the same police vehicle responding to a call regarding gunshots being fired in the area of Debree Avenue and West 33rd Street.

While responding to the call, the cruiser overturned on Llewellyn Avenue. Officer Ademola was able to free himself from the wreckage, but Officer Miller was trapped inside the twisted metal.

Norfolk Fire-Rescue personnel who responded knew the call to help a fellow public servant would be difficult.

"Initial dispatch, what we heard on the radio when they woke us up at 4:30 in the morning, was that there was a police officer trapped in the vehicle and that kind of changes our thought process a lot. It’s one of us. We’re going to get there and get it done," City of Norfolk Firefighter Enhanced Tim Doyle told NewsChannel 3's Todd Corillo on Wednesday.

"We have one of our own. Boys in Blue in dire straits and we just went into business," added Captain Mike Yoshida.

When firefighters arrived, the police cruiser was on its side, partially submerged in the water.

"The frame of the vehicle was completely twisted. It was actually broken in several places so there was no real access to the patient from the underside of the car," Doyle said.

"We do encounter a lot of traps and pins however this was more significant. The damage – the vehicle was completely encapsulating the police officer that was in the vehicle," Yoshida described.

It took 55 minutes of painstaking work and nearly every piece of equipment on the heavy rescue truck to free Officer Miller from the wreckage.

"He knew where he was, he knew he was in trouble, he just wanted to get out of the car and I told him it’s going to take a while, we’ll get you out of the car. The vehicle basically enveloped his legs. From his knees down you couldn’t see him," Doyle stated.

Monday morning was a particularly frigid one for the firefighters, working in the dark and in knee-deep water. Yet none of them seemed particularly bothered by the less than ideal conditions.

"You kind of take out the inclement weather and you just focus. You just know that you’re there helping your family, the Boys in Blue, and just moving forward on a common goal to extricate him and get him out as fast as possible," Yoshida commented.

"We had a goal that night and it was to get him out and get him out safely. Cold, water, it doesn’t matter, you go where you’ve got to go," Doyle added.

Norfolk Police credit the quick work of Norfolk Fire-Rescue personnel for likely saving Officer Miller's life.

"I did my job. That’s what we are here for," Doyle said.

Norfolk Police say Officer Titcombe has been released from the hospital and is now at home recovering.

Officer Miller remains at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.