On the morning of December 31st, Officer Nathaniel Nicklaus of Robinson, IL was on a routine patrol when he spotted something out of the ordinary.
Black smoke above Myers and Poplar Streets caught his attention, and the situation led him to be in the right place at the right time.
“It took me a minute to process what I was seeing because we don’t usually see structure fires, especially not being dispatched to them,” said Officer Nicklaus.
Nicklaus activated his emergency lights, which automatically turned on his dashboard camera, catching his heroic act.
“I approached the house and when I rounded the side I saw the victim lying on the porch directly next to the house,” said Nicklaus.
He pulled the man from the porch and into the yard of a neighbor who had initially put in the 911 call, “I could tell that he had been injured in the fire. But the house was almost completely engulfed in flames and the priority was to move him away from the house and then assess his injuries”.
Until first responders arrived on the scene, Nicklaus refused to leave the man, now identified as Carl Tarwater age 64.
Since the accident, first responders have tried to reach out to the victim and his family, “I attempted to make contact with I believe his sister who owns the house the day of the fire. Myself and the fire department did but we were unable to make contact with her at that time”.
With the ashes settling at the home, the Robinson Fire Department has deemed the fire a tragic accident.
“After the fire was under control, we determined the fire to have been caused by an improperly lit propane heater,” said Fire Chief Travis Miller.
The public release of the dash cam video has made Officer Nicklaus feel humbled by the praise from his community, but he says he was simply doing his job, “I appreciate all the gratitude. However I believe the only significant difference between what I did and what millions of other police, fire and EMT do every single day is that it happened to be caught on camera”.
Tarwater is currently being treated for his burns at a trauma center in Indianapolis.