The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Lou Marzeles

Goldendale man rescues Seattle police captain from burning truck


Q13 Fox News Seattle

WANT A JOB?: Captain Dave Emerick, left, thanks DJ Campbell of Goldendale for his heroic actions on a Q13 Fox News broadcast last week, then offered him a job with the Seattle Police on the air.

One of Goldendale's finest made such a dramatic impression recently, he got offered a job on TV.

On June 12, DJ Campbell was on his way home from his studies at Divers Institute of Technology in Seattle.

"I was headed home for Father's Day to take my father, Bill Campbell, golfing, and to go to the Glenwood Rodeo with my mother, Renea Campbell," he recalls.

He was headed over Snoqualmie Pass and just about to Cle Elum when he suddenly saw something a driver would really rather never see.

"I looked in my rearview mirror and I noticed that the whole belly of the truck behind me was on fire," Campbell says. "So I turned on my flashers and I started swerving back and forth, to try to get them to slow down. I finally got them to pull over."

Campbell hopped out of his vehicle and started calling 9-1-1, and he saw that the truck on fire was still rolling-the driver, Captain Dave Emerick of the Seattle Police Department, had lost his brakes and was trying to slow down the truck with his emergency brake. Within minutes, the truck was on the side of the road, and Emerick and his wife Sally crawled out through the window.

But the truck continued to roll, this time back into traffic. Campbell took action. "I jumped in the pick-up and turned the wheel to get it out of the road," he says. "I got out of the pick-up and saw it was still on fire, then went back in to try to find a fire extinguisher. I finally found it; it was a small thing, and I started spraying it, but it wasn't doing any good. A gentleman brought over a larger fire extinguisher, so I started spraying. Then Dave Emerick, the captain, told me to get out there-'It's insured.'"

Then the fire extinguisher died, and there was little left that could be done. And suddenly Campbell realized he was missing his cell phone.

"I realized I'd dropped my phone in the pick-up," he says. "By that time the whole thing was engulfed in flames and ended up blowing up."

The fuel tank explosion was enormous, sending debris, glass, tires scattering everywhere. But no one was hurt.

Q13 Fox News Seattle

The Emericks' truck was engulfed in flames.

Days later, standing before the cameras of Fox 13 News, Emerick gave Campbell a check for $1,000 to replace his cell phone-and if there were a little left over to take his parents out as congratulations for raising such an exceptional son. Emerick also recruited Campbell on screen to join the Seattle Police. "You're just the kind of person we're looking for," Emerick told Campbell.

"I did get a new cell phone," Campbell says.

What sparked him into action? "I just kind of reacted out of an emergency situation-keep a level head," he states. Also prompting him was his training in the U.S. Navy. "As soon as I got down to the pick-up, my military training came into play, the risk-reward training. That came in handy at that point."

And will Campbell make his way into the Seattle Police Department? "It's one of my options," he considers. "I was actually considering going down to the Gulf and working on oil rigs. Options are open."

And in the meantime, Campbell says he and Emerick will probably go golfing sometime this week.


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