After arriving at the scene of a burning Sturgis, S.D., house May 12, 2018, and learning that 47-year-old Jason R. McKee was still inside, police Officer Dylan M. Goetsch, 27, and Sgt. Christopher W. Schmoker, 37, entered the home.
Filled with dense smoke and visible flames in the kitchen, Goetsch and Schmoker moved to the home’s upper level where Goetsch went to his hands and knees, crawled to a bedroom, and searched it for McKee, who was not there. Goetsch retraced his steps and returned to the home’s front door before returning upstairs to search another bedroom.
Dense smoke made it impossible for Goetsch to see more than a few feet in front of him. He exited the house and from the exterior, he climbed a ladder that was below McKee’s bedroom window. At the window opening, he heard McKee breathing.
After confirming his location, Goetsch returned to the front door where he and Schmoker re-entered the house – this time with wet T-shirts over their mouths and noses. They ran to McKee’s bedroom and, with difficulty, dragged him from the house as flames spread to the ceiling above them.
McKee was hospitalized for smoke inhalation and inhalation burns to his lungs. Goetsch and Schmoker sustained minor smoke inhalation; they recovered.