Everyday Heroes

Man Wronged By Police Helps Save Police Officer From Car Crash

Why he's being hailed an unlikely hero after he rushed to the aid of an officer whose life was in danger.

Daylan McLee doesn't want to be called a hero. But after he saved a police officer's life by pulling him from a burning car on Father's Day, he's earned the title.

McLee, 31, was hanging with some friends and family at a cookout in Uniontown, PA on Sunday when he heard a loud boom and the house shook. He thought it might have been a small earthquake, but when a relative came running inside and said there had been an accident involving a police car in front of the building, he ran outside to see what happened.

Without hesitation, McLee rushed toward the police cruiser, which was on fire, and pulled out Officer Jay Hanley, who was stuck inside.

"I don't know what came across me, but I ripped the door open and just pulled him to safety across the street," McLee told The Morning Call.

The collision happened in front of an apartment building where McLee was celebrating Father's Day on Sunday. KDKA Pam Surano/Facebook

Police officials later credited McLee with saving Hanley's life.

McLee, who's a black man with tattoos on his neck and arms, has had a few run-ins with the police in the past. He spent a year in jail for a case he said he was wrongly accused of pointing a weapon at a state trooper. After security footage showed that McLee had actually disarmed a man who was involved in a bar fight, he was acquitted by a jury and released.

McLee said he "couldn't leave the officer behind" when he saw the car catch fire. KDKA Pam Surano/Facebook

Even with his history with the cops, McLee knew that saving a life was more important than holding a grudge.

"Over the course of his life, Daylan McLee has had multiple, unjustified encounters with police officers just because of the color of his skin," McLee's attorney Alec Wright said. "Those encounters make him the perfect candidate to hate and resent the police. But, that is not Daylan."

A little boy gave McLee a "Kindness Revolution" bracelet to show him his appreciation for saving the officer's life. KDKA Pam Surano/Facebook

McLee remembers speaking with Hanley a few weeks ago, while the officer was on patrol in his neighborhood.

"I realized after, that I'd seen him. He speaks to people; he says hello; he isn't an officer that harasses anybody. He commented to me about the heat was coming for us," McLee said.

Hanley's fellow officers, along with the mayor of Uniontown, reached out to McLee to thank him for saving Hanley's life.

"That was a horrific accident that happened, it was bad," Uniontown's Mayor Bill Gerke said. "But something good came from it."

While the positive attention has been nice, McLee says he just wants to be a good role model for his 13-year-old son, and to make sure he knows not to judge people by their occupations or skin color.

"I don't want to be called a hero. I just want to be known as an individual who is an upstanding man," McLee said. "No matter what or where, just an upstanding person. And I hope that trooper [from the previous case] sees this and knows he's forgiven."

Officer Hanley's friends and fellow officers have been reaching out to McLee to thank him for what he did. Screenshot: WTAE-TV

How can you start something good?

While we probably won't get the chance to rescue a police officer from a burning car, we can all be more like McLee and show respect and empathy to those around us every day.

Perhaps that means saying hello to someone you wouldn't normally speak to, or being open to having tough conversations with those who disagree with you. We can all do our part to make the world a little more kind.

Let's #StartSomethingGood together!

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