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Officer who pulled a trucker from a tractor-trailer before an explosion said he felt his father's spirit with him

The unconscious driver was pulled out of the cab shortly before his truck exploded and burst into flames on I-85.

SALISBURY, N.C. — A Salisbury police officer is being praised for his heroic actions after he rescued a FedEx driver from a burning truck on Interstate 85. 

Lt. Corey Brooks was responding to another call on Aug. 8 when he saw a tractor-trailer crash into the barrier on I-85. Body camera video released by the Salisbury Police Department shows the moment Brooks saw what happened and his instant response. Brooks immediately took off running toward the truck. 

WCNC Charlotte's Austin Walker sat down one-on-one with Brooks, who recalled the events that night. 

Brooks was responding to a shots fired call just before midnight. He got ready and was on the way to the scene. On the way, he saw a semi-truck hit the median on I-85 at 60 miles per hour. 

“The truck erupted in flames from the metal hitting the concrete," Brooks said. "I parked and turned my blue lights on. I ran towards the truck."

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Just seconds later, he pulled the door open and yelled for the driver to get out of the truck, which was on fire. The driver was unconscious behind the wheel. Brooks quickly unfastened the man's seatbelt and pulled him from the burning truck. 

With 25 years of experience, Brooks has seen his share of intense situations. But in this one, he said someone was with him the whole time: He felt his father's spirit. 

His father was an officer for 35 years, and recently died. 

“I always keep his necklace and his picture in my pocket,"  Brooks said. 

Brooks said after he was freed from the truck, another person stopped and helped pull the driver away from the flames. 

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“I don’t know who she is or what training she had, but it was like a partner I’ve worked with for years," Brooks said. "She knew what to do.”  

The two pulled the driver all the way across the highway and just a minute later the truck exploded. The fire completely swallowed the cab of the truck where the driver was sitting before Brooks rescued him. 

If you have never been put in that position to where you say this might be the day," Brooks said, "That’s the feeling I was having. This might be the day I might not make it. I will walk away with peace that I know the driver is OK. If my dad was here right now, he would pat me on the back and say 'I’m glad [you did] what you did because I wanted you to be better than me.'”  

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Brooks, who is originally from Sumter, South Carolina, has been recognized for his service during his tenure. He was awarded the city of Salisbury's Key to Excellence Bronze Award and was named the Salisbury Police Veteran of the Year. In 2016, Brooks was recognized as the Blue Line Brother Hood Award winner and received the Lions Club of Salisbury's police veteran of the year award. 

Contact Austin Walker at awalker@wcnc.com and follow him on FacebookX and Instagram.

Contact Kia Murray at kmurray@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookX and Instagram.

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