Urbandale Police Officer Pulls Man From Burning Car



Urbandale Police Dash CamThe Des Moines Register has a piece yesterday, “Caught on video: Urbandale officer pulls man from burning car.”

Urbandale happens to be where I live. Good, bad and in-between, you take a little more notice of the news stories on what happens in your specific community.

The story has numerous take-aways.

Apparently 18-year-old Ian Waseskuk, was “doing donuts” in the Urbandale Baptist Church parking lot Sunday night, and lost control of his 1995 Buick, hitting the church’s air conditioning unit.

Waseskuk also lost consciousness. Kind of a big deal, since his Buick was on fire by the time the police arrived.

With the smoke in the car, it wasn’t readily obvious to the responding officer at first that there was anyone in the vehicle. It sounded like a close call on more than one level.

Officer Zac McDowell reacted immediately, went the extra mile that others might not, and checked a second time to determine whether the car contained any passengers.

He did his job, rescued Waseskuk, and stepped into hero territory.

McDowell happened to have an ISU student with him, Nick Schroeder, 22, who was doing a ride along. Schroeder joined McDowell in exhibiting bravery and assisted in saving Waseskuk.

Since the incident McDowell has been self-deprecating, saying he just did what he was trained to do, and even gave kudos to Schroeder.

Schroeder said he’s wanted to be a police officer since he was a boy, and his involvement with the Urbandale Police Department has only served to foster this.

In addition to including mention of McDowell inspiring the young man riding along with him that night, and giving great example to a young people everywhere, the story also details McDowell’s background in the military before joining the Urbandale force in 2008.

Nice catch, Urbandale PD.

It’s also good to hear about young people interested in serving in the honorable profession of law enforcement, and great as well to learn that there are young people willing to put the good of others ahead of their own personal safety, as law enforcement officers regularly do.

Bravo, McDowell and Schroeder.

The comment box for the story includes that of a parent stating that Waseskuk also hit his daughter in 2011 the parking lot of Hoover High School, from where Waseskuk graduated in 2012. The man said his daughter was taken by ambulance to the emergency room.

Without knowing details, it still could be a reasonable guess that the actions that landed Waseskuk unconscious in a burning vehicle the other night might not be the first time he has done some reckless driving.

And even if what happened in the Hoover lot in 2011 was completely an accident, one would think that involvement in a vehicular incident that sends someone away in an ambulance would “stick,” precluding somebody from future poor choices behind the wheel.

Even as a middle-aged mom, the lure of some sorts of teenage mischief is not that far in my rearview mirror. I get how much fun parking lot donuts appear to be, and even that they may seem perfectly harmless.

What may not still be visible in that rearview mirror for me is the level of pervasiveness achieved by the foolish teenage assumption of invincibility.

And so even if I’m the only mom around who understands the appeal of donuts in a slippery parking lot, I’ll bet I’m not alone as a mom in wanting to thump Waseskuk on the head.

Instead, I will thank him for providing living textbook example for my emerging driver offspring of how one stupid choice behind the wheel can have some super serious consequences.

I will offer a prayer too in thanksgiving for his making it through the incident alive. With thoughts for those who know and love Waseskuk, I pray he grabs hold of his second chance.

I am obliged as well to a hat-tip to the Register for printing something uplifting. Although my jaded side is whispering that it would have been much less likely to make the cut had they not been able to get their hands on the video.

It’s pretty dramatic. Check it out.

Keep updated with Caffeinated Thoughts!