Eric C. Keys

A 37-year-old woman was unconscious and trapped inside her burning SUV after it left a highway and crashed into a tree on March 13, 2019, in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. A 35-year-old sheriff’s deputy of La Plata, Maryland, Eric C. Keys, was riding in a van nearby and saw the burning car. Fire spread to the grass around the vehicle. Running to the car, he gave a bystander a fire extinguisher, instructing them to discharge it toward his feet. As the fire intensified and ignited nearby trees, Keys used his metal baton to break the driver’s window, then reached through the opening to unlock and open the door. Despite thick smoke, Keys kneeled on the driver’s seat and grasped the woman by the back of her pants and pulled her toward him. He bear-hugged her and dragged her from the vehicle to safety. She was not burned. The hair on Keys’ legs was singed and he was treated at an emergency room for smoke inhalation; he recovered.