Salute the Badge: KHP Trooper saves driver from burning semi

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- In April, Governor Colyer recognized Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper Raul Carrillo for pulling a driver out of a burning truck.

But the ever humble Trooper Carrillo says he was just doing his duty.

Born to Mexican migrant workers, Carrillo was taught two things in life.

"One, is to make an honest living and the other is not to blemish our family name,” Carrillo said.

When his older brother got stopped by a KHP Trooper, a teenage Carrillo saw knew the job was how he could do both.

"I looked back, looked at his patrol car and at that time they used to drive the old patrol cars with the blue and gray top on top of the roof of the car,” said Carrillo. “I thought that was just awesome."

After serving in the Marines he made his way back to Kansas, joining the patrol, and ruling the road 19 years and counting.

"This is a great agency to work for,” Carrillo said.

Carrillo has seen his fair share of fender benders and fatal accidents but nothing prepared him for an injury crash in February.

"I was just focused on trying to get home on time,” Carrilllo said.

A semi hauling a tanker filled with diesel crashed into the center barrier along K-10 between Matfield Green and El Dorado. It overturned and burst into flames.

"It was a quarter mile when I saw what was going on,” said Carrillo. “I had time to react and that was to get out of his way and pull completely off to the shoulder.”

Debris shattered his front windshield so he backed up, called dispatch and got out.

"I knew it was a dangerous situation,’ said Carrillo. “There's a lot of things going through my mind. Is this thing going to explode? Am I going to catch fire when I get to it?"

Despite the danger he ran toward the truck.

"The last thing that I wanted to see was somebody parish in a fire like that,” Carrillo said.

He tugged at the trapped driver for what felt like an eternity, but was only seconds.

"I could still see the liquid gushing out of there and having the fire only inches away from my face as I was pulling him out, I did not know how this thing was going to play out,” Carrillo said.

Finally, the seat belt broke free and Carrillo carried the driver away from the flames.

"The first thing I asked him was anyone in the car,” said Carrillo. “He said no."

The driver, Kenny Cantrall of Emporia, suffered major injuries but survived. He says Carrillo is more than his hero, but his guardian angel.

"I honestly thought I was praying my last prayer as I felt Officer Carrillo grab hold of me,” said Cantrall. “I don't know too many people that will reach into a fire."

Carrillo may have had an angel of his own that day.

"The ‘what ifs’ just go through my mind,” said Carrillo. “What if it didn't go this way? What really touches my heart is my family. My wife, my 12-year-old daughter my 10-year-old son and of course the truck driver himself."

Carrillo says he has no plans of slowing down.

He currently works in the Auto-Theft Department as is based out of Wichita.