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Police officer, three others honored for rescue efforts after crashes in far north Chicago suburb

CBS News Live
CBS News Chicago Live

GURNEE, Ill. (CBS) -- Local heroes in Gurnee were honored Monday night for their bravery in two different emergency rescues last month.

Back on the night of Thursday, Nov. 9, Gurnee police Officer Kassandra Canadzic was at the wheel of a squad car on U.S. 41 near Route 120.

Gurnee police said just before 10 p.m. that night, officers had conducted a traffic stop at that site. During the stop, a man was arrested and taken into custody for an active warrant.

An officer remained at the scene inside a marked squad car with flashing lights behind the person's vehicle. Less than an hour later, a 2017 Chevrolet Trax, driven by a 63-year-old woman from North Chicago who is suspected of driving under the influence, struck the back of the squad car and caught fire.

Officer Canadzic quickly called for help – and rushed to get the other driver out of the burning car. She coordinated efforts with a bystander to unbuckle her seatbelt and carry her to safety.

Two passengers, a 61-year-old man, and a 12-year-old girl, also of North Chicago, were able to escape the car on their own, police said.

Gurnee police released a video of Canadzic's rescue effort.

Gurnee Police Officer Saves Driver From Burning Car by Gurnee Police Department on YouTube

Also honored Monday were three other people who stepped into action in a crash on Wednesday, Nov. 1, at Route 132 and Lawson Boulevard.

Police had responded to a minor two-vehicle crash involving a Chrysler minivan and a BMW X3 – in which injuries turned out to be involved. A woman BMW driver, out of her car assessing the damage, ended up being trapped between two cars upon being hit by a third vehicle.

First responders at the scene were met with three people who took action at the scene. Police said those three people, "demonstrating remarkable composure and medical expertise, swiftly assessed the gravity of the situation."

They applied tourniquets to control the bleeding of the injured woman until police and paramedics arrived.

Those three people were Lisa Rivera, Nicholas Lunsford, and William Eichholtz – a nurse, a fire cadet, and a sheriff's deputy from Winnebago County, respectively.

All three were honored with life-saving plaques from the Gurnee Fire Department.

"I want you all, rest assured, knowing that that lady is alive because of the three of you," Gurnee fire Lt. Tony Roberts told the heroes.

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