INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (January 2, 2016)– Speedway Police Officer Ray Hurt doesn't consider himself a hero, but many in the community say otherwise after he rescued a former Sprint Car Driver from his burning home New Years Day.
“I was just at the right place at the right time," Hurt said.
Hurt picked up an extra shift for the Speedway Police Department Friday morning and was patrolling the streets with his wife when the two saw smoke coming from a home in the 5500 block of West 16th St. just before 3:00 a.m.
“The whole back (of the home was) just engulfed," Hurt said.
He then called the fire into dispatch and proceeded to see if anyone was inside the home. At the back door, he found former Sprint Car Driver, Greg Staab, passed out from smoke inhalation.
“I picked him up and started dragging him out," Hurt said.
As the police officer was taking Staab to safety, Hurt says he woke up.
“I was just glad he started breathing," Staab said.
Hurt said Staab was then able to tell him that his girlfriend, Penny Stewart, and two dogs were still inside the home.
“That’s a hero right there," Staab's employer, Indy Race Parts Owner Bernie Stuebgen, said. "I’d like to shake (Hurt's) hand you know. That’s a commendable thing to do. That’s above and beyond."
Stuebgen said Staab was doing well Saturday and is expected to make a full recovery. However, Stewart passed away from smoke inhalation.
Stuebgen says "virtually everyone in the racing community" knows Staab. Stuebgen started taking donations at his store Saturday and already had $400 after just a few hours.
“We will all be here for him and support him as much as we can," Steubgen said. He added that customers as far as Australia have called and texted to check on Staab's condition.
"I think it shows you how much he has impacted people, that people halfway across the world are asking how he’s doing," he said.
Fire investigators are still looking into the blaze, but believe it started accidentally in the living room. They called the home a total loss and said if it weren't for Hurt's quick actions, Staab may have not made it.
“Officer Hurt did a heroic thing by going in an getting the gentleman out and we are happy that he did it," Speedway Fire Department Lt. Jeff Cheshire said.
When I asked Hurt how he felt about being considered a hero, he responded.
“I don’t like it," Hurt said. "There are other officers that put their lives on the line and do a lot more dangerous stuff than I do. I was just at the right place at the right time.”
Staab's friend Tia Shircliff Dori set up a GoFundMe page in his honor to help him with the costs of recovery. As of Friday evening, the page raised nearly $7,000.