UNA alum, now police officer, rescues driver from burning vehicle in Texas

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AUSTIN, Texas — On May 24, 2021, an apartment complex in Austin, Texas was rattled when a vehicle exploded in the parking lot.

Just moments before the explosion, police body camera footage showed two officers rescuing the driver from the vehicle. The officers were partners Eduardo Pineda and Chandler Carrera.

If Carrera’s name sounds familiar, he’s a graduate of the University of North Alabama where he was a kicker for the football team from 2017 to 2019.

Being from Virginia, News 19 asked Carrera how life brought him to Austin after graduating.

“It was kind of in the works, essentially, right after the season ended that fall,” Carrera said. “I was looking around because I knew I wanted to become a police officer somewhere and with family growing up here and visiting this area, I really liked it so it was one that I looked at.”

In fact, Carrera said it was the only department he applied to.

On the day of the rescue, he and Pineda were actually on the way to a different call when they heard about the vehicle fire.

“We were doubled up in the same car, so I was driving, and he was on the computer,” Carrera explained.

“Approximately two seconds right after we were able to pull him out, there was an explosion,” Pineda said. “I could see, in the corner of my eye, a fireball that just pretty much took over the whole passenger compartment of the vehicle.”

Pineda and Carrera said a situation like this is not something you learn at the academy, but perhaps on the football field, as the officers’ response reflected the importance of teamwork.

“We actually had the same exact plan in mind so it’s just one of those that after you work with someone so many times, you just start to mesh and know what the other ones thinking and he knows what you’re thinking,” Pineda explained.

Carrera said his biggest takeaway from the rescue is that it was a learning experience. He said there is always room to improve should they receive a similar call in the future.

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