Unified Police Officer Rushes Into Burning Home Trying To Save Man

Dec 16, 2019, 10:30 PM | Updated: 10:42 pm

MAGNA, Utah – When a man on the front steps of a Magna house told him that his father was trapped, officer Eric Salway with the Unified Police Department said there was no other choice than to run inside.

Flames were shooting out of a basement window and smoke had filled the home at 3378 South Broadway Street.

“I can see someone sitting in a wheelchair about 10, 12 feet inside,” Salway said.

Salway said the smoke from the early Monday morning fire quickly became oppressive.

“It shocked me, honestly, how just even 10 feet into the house how difficult it was to breathe — I felt it immediately,” the officer said. “I just ran in and grabbed him as fast as I could and pulled him out.”

Salway and arriving paramedics attempted life-saving measures to revive the elderly man, but he never regained consciousness.

He was later identified by police as 96-year-old Willis Shepherd.

“I’d actually been here to the house before,” Salway said. “I’m somewhat familiar with the family — yeah, he was a World War II vet. He was a good guy.”

Late Monday, a Unified Fire Authority spokesman said that while the origin of the fire was determined to be the basement, the cause remained under investigation and damage to the home was estimated at $50,000.

Salway said he never thought twice about risking his own life to try to save another.

“Police officers, we care about people,” Salway said. “You just do it. We’re trained and that’s what we do and, you know, we just hoped for a better outcome, really.”

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Unified Police Officer Rushes Into Burning Home Trying To Save Man