TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Two Jacksonville police officers who pulled a woman from a burning car moments before it exploded have been recognized by the state for their heroism.
Officer Kathleen James and Officer Chelsea McCullom were given Back the Blue awards by Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody.
Moody said the two officers saw a car burst into flames after a crash on the on-ramp of Interstate 10.
When the officers heard screams coming from the car, they jumped into action, forcing the jammed door open before reaching into the burning car to pull the driver to safety.
The officers dragged the woman 10 feet away before the vehicle exploded.
Despite life-threatening injuries, including second- and third-degree burns to 40% of her body, the driver made a full recovery, Moody said.
"The heroic actions taken by these two officers are incredible. Without hesitation, both of these officers fearlessly entered a burning vehicle to save this woman’s life and shielded her with their own bodies from exploding shrapnel," Moody said. "It is an absolute honor to present them a Back the Blue Award today. Thank you, officers, for nobly serving your community and risking your own lives to save another. We are so proud of you.”
James has served with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office since 2013, starting in the property room as a police service technician and then transitioning to a police officer in 2015. Before joining JSO, James worked as a certified medical assistant for 12 years. James also served four years in the U.S. Army and is currently in the U.S. Navy Reserves.
McCullom has served with JSO since 2017 as a police officer. Before starting with JSO, McCullom completed her degree in criminal justice at Calumet College of St. Joseph in Whiting, Indiana.
To nominate a law enforcement officer, citizen or organization for a Back the Blue Award, email Georgia.Pevy@MyFloridaLegal.com.