Terrell native and Terrell High School graduate, Michael Chitty, helped save the lives of two people who were traveling in a van that was struck by a driver, causing the van to flip on its side and catch fire.
Chitty is a police officer for the Arlington Police Department and is the son of 422nd District Court Judge B. Michael Chitty.
Around 5 a.m. on Friday, May 10 Chitty was driving to work off duty when he saw a vehicle driving erratically on westbound interstate 30, west of Loop 12 exit.
As he was getting ready to call it in, the vehicle crashed which caused the van it hit to crash and overturn and catch fire with four occupants inside the van.
Investigators concluded that a 2004 Lincoln Aviator was westbound on I-30 when it left its lane and collided with a barrier at the Texpress Lanes entrance, a news release from Grand Prairie police said. A 2003 Chevrolet Express van then collided with the Lincoln, causing the van to overturn and catch fire, police said. The van only had two seats, so two unsecured passengers were trapped in the wreckage, according to the release.
Chitty then saw the van crash into the disabled Lincoln. He stopped at the crash scene and helped rescue the remaining passengers from the van, the release said.
Two of the occupants were able to get out of the van on their own, but the other two were trapped and had to be helped, Lt. Christopher Cook, Arlington police spokesman said.
Chitty put the two van passengers into his car because the fire was getting close and drove them to safety, Cook said.
Chitty also saw the driver of the Lincoln and ordered him to sit down and wait for arriving authorities. The driver complied at first, but while Chitty was occupied with making sure the van occupants were safe, the man ran across the freeway into a wooded area, Cook said.
The occupants of the van were taken by paramedics to a nearby hospital for treatment. Three had been released by 2:30 p.m. while the remaining passenger was still receiving treatment but is expected to survive, according to the release.
The van’s occupants were co-workers between 17 and 19 years old from Garland who were on their way to a work site, police said.
About 6:45 a.m. Grand Prairie officers found the driver of the Lincoln near the intersection of Singleton Boulevard and Sea Harbor Drive in Dallas and placed him under arrest, according to police.
The suspect driver was identified as Jesus Gutierrez, 23, of Grand Prairie. He is facing four counts of failure to stop and render aid, hit-and-run, public intoxication and possession of drug paraphernalia charges, police said.
Narcotics were found in his car, according to the release. Gutierrez is being held at the Grand Prairie Police Detention Center. Bond was set at $135,000.
“Sgt. Michael Chitty is being hailed a hero today for his quick thinking and action to assist people involved in a fiery crash this morning. Sgt. Chitty being as humble as they come said he’s no hero... he just did what any other police officer or citizen should do and was in the right place at the right time,” Cook said.