UTPD corporal helps save man’s life in I-40 camper fire incident

Local News

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Several helping hands worked to safely respond to a traffic-stopping incident Wednesday on Interstate 40 west after a fifth-wheel camper caught fire and a bystander who first offered help suffered a cardiac event.

Before first responders arrived, an off-duty University of Tennessee Police corporal and an off-duty nurse happened to be at the right place at the right time, helping to save the life of the bystander who had been trying to help the driver whose fifth-wheel camper had caught fire.

It began just before 2 p.m. Wednesday when a truck hauling the fifth-wheel trailer pulled over on the shoulder with an apparent brake fire, according to Knoxville Police. With the help of a bystander, the driver was able to separate the truck from the trailer. The male bystander then suffered an “apparent cardiac event,” according to KPD.

UTPD Cpl. Kyle Botica (Photo by Steven Bridges/University of Tennessee)

According to the University of Tennessee Police Department, the off-duty UTPD corporal, Kyle Botica, was out running errands when he drove past the burning camper; he stopped to help the people and when one of them collapsed, he and others including the off-duty nurse, moved the man away from the fire to check his pulse.

They didn’t immediately find a pulse, so Botica and the off-duty nurse began CPR on the bystander.

Shortly after, Knoxville Fire Department and ambulance personnel arrived to the scene and they provided aid on-scene until the man was taken to a hospital. His condition is unknown as of Thursday night.

UTPD said Thursday that Knoxville Fire Department assistant chief Mark Wilbanks later wrote to UTPD to say that Botica’s actions “likely saved this person’s life.”

“Officer Botica went beyond the call of duty and made a difference in someone’s life.”

KFD assistant chief Mark Wilbanks to UTPD

Botica was not injured in the incident and according to UTPD, said he was grateful for the help of the nurse who assisted in caring for the man.

The nurse has not been identified.

Emergency crews were able to get the fire out and on Thursday, Tennessee Department of Transportation crews were out at the scene location near the Pellissippi Parkway overpass to assess the damage beneath it.

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