Police officers speak about heroic rescue from burning house

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RAVENNA, Ohio (WJW) — Two police officers who helped rescue a young woman from a blazing house fire opened up on Thursday, telling their heroic story although neither views themself as a hero.

Police Sgt. Christopher Coy says he was just starting his shift on May 13 when he noticed heavy black smoke rising in the sky in the distance and started heading that way believing it might have been a tire fire somewhere in the city.


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He was still en route when dispatchers radioed that it was a house fire with someone trapped in the basement. Coy’s body-worn camera shows the intensity of the fire as he pulled up to the house.

“There was basically a large inferno. The house was on fire from every which direction, I showed up. I instantly knew it was really bad. I knew that we were going to have to have other fire departments from the area respond,” said Coy.

His body-worn camera shows him desperately trying to find a way into the home, but the flames were too intense.

“As I continued around the house I ended up finding a small basement window and ultimately kicked that in,” he said.

The whole time 19-year-old McKenzie Shanafelt was on the phone with dispatchers. The call became more and more desperate as the basement was rapidly filling with smoke.

By then Coy was joined by patrolman Dominic Nicolino. Both started yelling through the narrow basement window hoping to get a response from Shanafelt.

“There was a bunch of smoke in there. We yelled in several times — me and patrolman Nicolino didn’t get a response initially. We were putting our flashlights in there trying to get her attention, yelling,” said Coy.

On the 911 call, the voices of the officers could be heard in the background. The dispatcher instructing Shanafelt to go toward their voices. Officer Nicolino was also waving a flashlight in the smoke and haze giving Shanafelt something else to go toward.

“Once we were able to hear her voice that sense of what we did not know was kind of gone,” said Nicolino.

Soon Shanafelt’s face could be seen in the window and the officers hurried to pull her to safety.

“That was just a relief, once her face popped up in that window and we were able to pull her out,” said Nicolino.


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“I was ecstatic that she was alive to be honest because initially I knew how bad it was and I didn’t know the outcome — I didn’t know what the outcome was going to be,” said Coy.

Coy suffered minor burns and cuts on his hands. He was taken to the hospital after inhaling a good bit of smoke at the scene.

Both say they are thankful for their training which helped them stay focused on their task, placing the lives of others ahead of their own.

“To me — to watch that, I actually got goosebumps to watch that and be proud of these young men when they put their lives on the line,” said Ravena Police Captain Jason Smallfield, who just recently promoted Coy to Sgt.

“Basically, all of my training throughout the years paid off. For the most part, I remained calm as did the other officers. Everybody did a great job — the fire department, all of the other officers responding,” said Coy.

“I wouldn’t say I feel heroic. I feel like it’s something that we do on a daily basis, it’s something that we took an oath to do.”

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