ROBINSON, Ill. (WTHI) - Robinson police officer Nathaniel Nicklaus started his shift at six AM on New Years Eve. The Flat Rock native had worked for just about an hour when something got his attention.
Nicklaus explains, "I was just out on patrol. I just happened to turn, I was on one of our main streets happened to turn down a side street, I saw about five blocks to the north large flames coming out of the residence."
The officer quickly made his way to the area to investigate.
Officer Nicklaus drove east past Lincoln school when he came upon 406 Poplar street. The flames were already coming from the house. He parked his car at the intersection Poplar and Myers streets. He turned his lights on. That's also when his dash camera came on.
Nicklaus says, "When I approached the residence I was not sure if anyone lived there. There wasn't much in the yard. There was no vehicle. I wasn't sure if it was abandoned or not."
Nicklaus came around to the back side of the house where the fire was most intense. That's where he found Carl Tarwater. Tarwater had fought his way through the flames but lay just inches from the fire.
Nicklaus says, "I was not sure the extent of his injuries. The only thing I knew is he needed to be away from the residence because it was a very significant fire. So my first instinct was just to move him away."
In the video, you can see Nicklaus pull Tarwater to safety. As neighbors rushed to help the officer knew what to do.
Nicklaus explains, "Training took over. A little bit of the first aid and first response training that we have that's initially what caused me to take the action that I took."
Paramedics arrived within minutes. Tarwater is now being treated for his injuries at Eskenazi Health Burn Unit and is listed in fair condition.
Looking at the back of the house, it's hard to believe someone could survive. But thanks to quick action by officer Nathaniel Nicklaus, he will.
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