RIPLEY COUNTY, In. (FOX19) - An Indiana State Police sergeant was honored Monday for his heroism rescuing a teenage girl from a fiery crash in rural Indiana.
ISP Sgt. Jared Black received the Indiana State Police Lifesaving Award surrounded by members of ISP’s Versailles Post, where Black works.
The girl he saved now remembers the experience as something between a dream and a nightmare.
“I thought for sure I was going to die,” Chloe Strassell told FOX19 NOW Tuesday.
Strassell was 17 years old in August 2020 when she crashed her car on Country Road 600 in Ripley County. Her car caught fire with Strassell still trapped inside.
“I felt like, is this a dream?” Strassell said. “It was literally a dream... And then I saw the smoke, and it got to the point where I literally couldn’t breathe.”
Luckily the teenager was able to call 911.
“I kept telling them I needed out ASAP, because I could not breathe,” she recalled. “I was so happy to see cop lights.”
But Strassell didn’t know where she had crashed. Black was only able to find her with the help of a dispatcher, who was also hailed as a hero in the aftermath of the crash.
“When I arrived, I found a vehicle on its side and on fire,” Black said at the time. “It was pretty stressful initially trying to get her out.”
Black had to break the sunroof using a maneuver he described as a “window punch.” He was able to pull Strassell out through the opening.
“It was awful. I was bawling my eyes out. It was like a nightmare, watching it happen,” Strassell said of the flames engulfing her car.
“Initially you don’t have time to be scared, you just go to work,” Black said.
Strassel escaped with some cuts and bruises but was not burned. Black said she inhaled some smoke as well, but she has since made a full recovery.
The teenager thanks Black not only for saving her life but for calming her down afterwards.
“He was talking to me, telling me it was going to be ok, talking me through everything,” she said.
Strassell says she lost a lot of sleep after the crash and was sacred to drive by herself, but things have improved.
Asked if she feels good now, she replied, “Yes.”