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Updated Sep 4, 2013 - 8:11 pm

Scottsdale officer honored for pulling man from burning truck

Scottsdale Police Officer Patrick Hindsberg accepts an honor for pulling a man out of a burning vehicle. (KTAR Photo/Bob McClay)

PHOENIX -- A Scottsdale police officer who pulled a man from a burning truck was honored for his bravery Wednesday at the Arizona Burn Center.

When Scottsdale Police Officer Patrick Hindsberg arrived at an accident near Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard and Cactus Road, he found a truck had hit a pole, rolled over and caught fire.The driver, Hartley Johnson, was trapped inside.

Hindsberg pulled Johnson out of the truck, but he said other people were also helping out at the accident scene.

"There were other witnesses there that were doing what they could to put the fire out. All we had was dirt," said Hindsberg. "I just found an opportunity to pull Mr. Johnson out of the back window. I used all of my might, somehow got him out and was able to keep him. I'm glad he's still with us. I'm glad I was able to do what I did."

Johnson's legs had to be amputated because of his burns, but he's thankful that Hindsberg saved his life.

"It was a bad nightmare that turned out to good," said Johnson. "I'm still here. Thanks to Patrick Hindsberg for saving me."

Johnson is doing well despite the loss of his legs. He has now enrolled in college and plans to be an engineer. His wife was ejected from the truck, but is recovering from an injured spleen. The cause of the single-vehicle crash is still under investigation.

Hindberg can't believe the honor he's received.

"This is overwhelming. This is not what I expected," he said. "This a true honor that the hospital did for me here. Most of our job goes unrecognized, and it's great once in a while that we do get recognized."

The Maricopa Health Foundation is asking for donations to the Arizona Burn Center to help the Johnson's with their medical expenses. For more information, click here.

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About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I am married to my wife Rene', who is a librarian in the Washington school district. During free time, I may be found playing basketball in the driveway with my son, Devin. He's also keeping me busy with school, Little League, and playing in chess tournaments around the Valley.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: Doug Oldham gospel concert in the 1970s at the old East High School in Phoenix.

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Northern Hills Community Church in Phoenix. We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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