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What began as a regular beat enforcing speed limits turned into a life-or-death situation for Georgia police sergeant Michael Peterson. But his body cam footage (which you can watch below) shows that his quick thinking, and bystanders’ willingness to help, likely saved the life of a teenage driver trapped beneath a flipped car.

Sergeant Peterson, of the Lawrenceville Police Department was working a night shift watching for speeders on Highway 316. He was parked under a overpass when a white car blew by him. He hit his lights and siren, then took off after the car. But by the time Sergeant Peterson caught up, disaster had struck. The car had flipped onto its roof by the side of the road.

White car with a smashed headlight from a crash.
Crashed car | Clark Van Der Beken via Unsplash

The officer parked his cruiser across the road and approached the scene of the crash. Three young men opened the doors and crawled out of the overturned car. He urged them to sit down and wait for medical help. But then these passengers delivered some even worse news: the 19-year-old driver had been tossed halfway out of the open sunroof and was stuck beneath the car.

Sergeant Peterson bent over and began to speak with the driver. He was alive, but the car had landed on his chest, preventing him from breathing.

Without moments to spare, the police officer pointed to the three passengers, two more police officers, and a group of bystanders who had stopped to help. He said, “You, me, and these three others,” so they knew he was addressing them. Then he laid out his plan: “He can’t breathe, so you and me are going to lift this car up. Right now.”

Red and blue lights atop a police cruiser.
Police car | Michael Förtsch via Unsplash

The teenage passengers and the onlookers said, “Yes.” Then they took positions around the car. Sergeant Peterson cheered them all on saying, “C’mon y’all, we got this.”

Together, the team lifted the car, rolling it over onto the passenger’s side roof. Once the weight of the car was off of him, the driver was able to crawl free.

The Lawrenceville Police Department did not release the identity of the driver or of the passengers. But it did announce that the driver is alive and recovering from his injuries in the hospital. It applauded the lifesaving rapid action of Sergeant Peterson, as well as the good samaritans.

Next you can read about a truck driver who rescued a police officer, or watch the bodycam footage in the video below: