McLEAN, Va. (WJZ) — A Maryland man is charged with drunk driving after a police officer saves his life. The police officer pulled the man from a burning car.

Mary Bubala reports moments after that heroic act, the victim actually became the suspect.

A car up in flames.

“I hope this car doesn’t explode. That’s the one thought that was going in my mind,” said Officer Sharif Issa, Fairfax County Police Department.

That Fairfax County police officer–just nine months on the force–knew this was not an ordinary call.

“It’s a lot like when you open the oven, but maybe a lot worse,” said Issa.

It was worse. Inside the burning BMW–38-year-old Brian O’Donnell–who police say was intoxicated.

brian odonnell

“That guy was really lucky,” one man said.

Lucky because police say when the car hit a tree in an American Legion post parking lot, the officer was patrolling just around the corner.

The driver–apparently disoriented–didn’t seem to be moving. So the officer jumped into action as the flames intensified.

“I just kind of interlocked his hand and just kind of helped him get out of the vehicle and then just kind of pulled him over to a safe distance,” said Issa.

…Which is when the officer smelled alcohol.

“I don’t know if he would have passed out, or if he would have been unconscious,” said Issa.

“I can see from the amount of burning that took place, he hadn’t gotten out, he could have been a goner,” one man said.

The officer says he’s not a hero.

“I was just in the right place at the right time,” he said.

O’Donnell faces a DWI charge. But thanks to this quick-acting officer, he is alive.

The suspect–Brian O’Donnell–is from Darnestown, Maryland. He was not hurt in the incident, but was taken to the Fairfox County Detention Center on DWI charges.

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