By Zach Armstrong
PRINCE GEORGE, Va -- On the evening of Jan. 19, a 31-year-old woman ran off the right side of the road on the 9900 block of Prince George Drive, striking several trees and sustaining heavy damage before falling into a ditch.
The woman, like her vehicle soon after the crash, could have perished in flames if it hadn’t been for off-duty Prince George Auxiliary Officer Raleigh Fields who rescued her after he noticed her vehicle smoking in the tree line.
Fields said he left his home earlier than usual that day in order to get gas. When he realized there was a smoking vehicle in a roadside ditch, he went down hollering but didn’t get a response. When Fields got closer to the vehicle, he saw the door was cracked and a woman was trapped inside.
The woman told Fields that she had felt pain in her neck, chest and back and that the smoke was becoming unbearable. At that time, Fields said he could see sparks coming from the floorboard on the passenger side.
“The door was jammed, and when I finally cracked it open, I told her, ‘I need you to turn your legs and slide around without hurting yourself’,” said Fields. “I said ‘we’re going to get you out of here, everything is going to be OK’,”
Fields helped carry the woman up the hill and another lady who pulled over to assist kept her in the back of her car until she was taken to the Southside Regional Medical Center for non-life-threatening injuries.
About two minutes after the woman was assisted out of the ditch, her vehicle was fully ablaze.
Born in New York state, Fields moved to the Hopewell area at age five and lived there until moving to Prince George County in 1984. For approximately three decades, Fields took a job at the local Hopewell plant.
This March, he will have been an auxiliary officer for Prince George County for 28 years. The county started a program in 1993 for a dozen people to be volunteer officers due to a staffing shortage. Fields, wanting to give back to the community, became one of the members that were certified.
“I grew up with the children of a lieutenant officer in Hopewell, and when I applied for the job he told me ‘After all that stuff you put me through as a kid, you want me to be a reference?’”
Putting himself in danger is nothing unfamiliar to Officer Fields. About five years ago, a man who is now in prison attempting to rob Fields shot at his head while being chased out of his home. At the age of 18, Fields was abducted and held at gunpoint by a man portraying himself as a State Trooper.
“My wife always tells me ‘you’re crazy’ and ‘you’re always getting drawn into something wild’” said Fields. “Anybody would have done what I had done which was to just jump in and do what you gotta do to help out.”