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This article was published 12/7/2011 (3050 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A Steinbach trucker helped pull a Detroit police officer out of a burning car — but it was a surprise to him to hear the cop was high and drunk.
Now back at home, Wally Senkow, 56, said he doesn't know if the officer — who a preliminary Detroit police investigation alleges was high on drugs and drunk at the time of the collision while on duty last week — will be able to save his job.
"It's absolutely bizarre," Senkow said on Tuesday.
"It's almost tabloid material. If somebody had told me you'll be driving in Detroit, pull a cop from a car on fire who has been boozing, I'd have said 'What are you smoking?' "
Senkow was driving a semi-trailer on Detroit freeways last Thursday at about 4 a.m., heading to the Ambassador Bridge on his way to Canada with his driving partner, Walter Peters of Blumenort, asleep in the sleeping compartment, when he noticed a panel truck stopped in the middle of the road with some wreckage around it.
"It blocked my view of the police car about to be engulfed in flames," he said.
"But as I went by I saw an officer in the car."
Senkow said he stopped the truck and ran to assist another motorist in pulling the officer from the cruiser.
"He didn't give me any reason to believe he wanted to get out of the car — even though smoke was coming out of his hood. He was just sitting there."
Senkow said the other motorist thought because of the officer's possible injuries, they should leave him in the car until emergency personnel arrived.
"I said it's going to blow up so it doesn't matter what his injuries are — we have to get him out of it."
The pair pried open the door and escorted the officer to the side of the highway.
Shortly after, the front of the cruiser was in flames.
Senkow said it wasn't until the weekend, after he'd completed his freight trip to Toronto, that he learned Detroit police had determined the officer was under the influence of alcohol, and he had tested positive for a controlled substance.
"I thought he was in shock but now, in hindsight, I can think of things. I had to walk him across the highway and had to restrain him from going back to his car."
Detroit police have said before the officer was involved in the collision, a dispatcher had tried several times in vain to contact him.
In a Detroit media report on Saturday, Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee Jr. said he has suspended the officer, a sergeant whose shift began four hours earlier, without pay.
"I am disheartened that a member of the Detroit Police Department holding a supervisory rank, who has been sworn to protect and serve, and to display the highest level of professionalism, would endanger the lives of others as well as his own," Godbee said.
"Alleged conduct of this nature will lead me to seek dismissal of the sergeant from the Detroit Police Department. I owe that to the citizens of Detroit and the thousands of Detroit Police Department members who serve this city with honour and integrity."
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.