‘That’s what we’re called to do:’ Corporal Benitez talks about heroic rescue

KENNEWICK, Wash. — “Right off the bat, it was shock,” said Corporal JP Benitez with Benton County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO).

Benitez was one of the first responders to a car fire that happened at a strip mall near West Kennewick Avenue and State Route 395 on Monday. When he got on scene, he noticed a man, passed out, in the front seat.

That’s when he ran to save the man’s life.

RELATED: Benton Co. Deputy credited with saving driver from burning SUV

“It was kind of unusual to come up to the scene and still see someone inside,” Benitez said. “At that moment, it was just do what you can.”

BCSO released the dramatic body cam footage of the rescue on Wednesday, which quickly gained traction on Facebook. In an earlier post, they said “We’re extremely proud of Corporal Benitez for jumping into action to save the life of another.”

“One of the big things in our job, we have something called priority of life,” Benitez said. “For us, you know, it’s innocents, bystanders, anyone. That’s what we’re called to do.”

RELATED: WATCH: Bodycam footage shows Benton County Corporal pulling man from burning SUV wreck

During the rescue, Benitez risked his safety. Flames “licked his skin” several times during the rescue.

“The last thing I wanted to do was have someone in front of me parish, in a horrendous way,” Benitez said.

After saving the man from the vehicle, a bystander ran to help. “There was a gentleman that came out of nowhere,” Benitez said. “I whole heartedly appreciate that, and I wish I got his name, but we’re just kind of focused on getting this other guy revived here.”

In a statement previously released by Kennewick Police Department, officials believe the man in the car had overdosed, and then crashed into a van in the parking lot.

“Maybe this serves as a wake up call or something to him,” Benitez said. “We did have to administer Narcan on him, and I’m glad he came out.”