A Suffolk County police officer saved the life of a suicidal man who set himself on fire in his car outside a movie theater in Stony Brook, NY.
Police identified the victim as a 42-year-old man from Centereach, NY. He was taken to Stony Brook University Hospital, where he received treatment for the burns he suffered and is currently undergoing evaluation.
The police officer, who was identified as Sixth Precinct Officer Matthew Merced, was treated at the same hospital for shoulder and arm injuries and was later released.
Newsday reported that the rescue occurred on Wednesday, in the parking lot of an AMC Loews Theater at 11:23 p.m.
According to the police, the man had been reported missing, and Merced was assisting detectives in locating him. When Merced located the man, he spoke briefly with him, then contacted the man’s family members to tell them his location.
When an unidentified family member arrived, the man reentered his car, poured a flammable liquid on his lap, and set himself on fire.
Merced was able to pull him out of the car through the passenger door of the vehicle before it became fully engulfed in flames.
Police officials said when Merced removed the man from his car, his lower body was on fire. Merced extinguished the man’s clothing by rolling him on the ground and smothering the flames with a sweatshirt.
When the paramedics arrived, they took both men to the hospital for treatment.