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Deputy says he was forced to resign following inconsistent fire rescue story

POWHATAN COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) – The veteran Powhatan County Sheriff’s Deputy who said he helped save a man from a burning car has resigned following an internal investigation. Powhatan Sheriff G. A. Neal said the investigation was sparked by “some inconsistent statements.”

“The investigation has revealed that the statements made by the deputy in reference to this incident were found to be inaccurate,” a Powhatan County Sheriff’s Office news advisory indicated. “Due to this being an on-going personnel issue, no further comment will be made concerning this matter.”

Powhatan Sheriff's Deputy Harley Crawford

Powhatan Sheriff’s Deputy Harley Crawford

In an interview with CBS 6 over the weekend, Deputy Harley Crawford said he pulled a man from a burning vehicle Friday night, basically saving his life.

“It was a big ball of fire when I got there,” Crawford, a 12-year veteran with the Powhatan Sheriff’s Office, told CBS 6 reporter Jake Burns. “I’ve never had to get someone out of a car like that. As soon as we got back to the corner of the car, the whole car was involved from the motor to the tailgate.”

During the interview, Crawford said the situation began when he tried to stop a car speeding along Route 60. He said when he caught up with the Dodge Neon, it was on fire.

He said the driver was unconscious, so he grabbed a fire extinguisher and tried to put out the flames. He was not successful.

Soon, he said, the driver woke up and Deputy Crawford said helped pull the man out of the car.

“It’s just gratifying that you can do that — and he’s going back home to his family,” Crawford said in the weekend interview.

CBS 6 reporter Joe St. George spoke with Crawford via telephone late Wednesday after his resignation was made public.

Crawford said that his inconsistencies were the result of him being in shock.

“When you are in a situation where there is a lot of fear and anxiety and adrenalin you remember certain things you forget certain things,” Crawford said.

Crawford said the evidence he was presented with indicates he didn’t actually pull a man from a car but rather he pulled a man who was already out of his car away from the blaze.

“Why did you resign then?” St. George asked Crawford.

“I was forced to resign,” Crawford said.

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