Wilton cop, witness speak about fiery crash

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WILTON -- The night before Thanksgiving, 26-year-old Hunter Stanfield, of Wilton, certainly had plenty to be thankful for.

“I looked out my window, walked to the front door and then saw the thing burst into flames,” said Arlene Rosenthal, who called 911 when Stanfield’s 2001 Range Rover rammed into some trees on her property.

The accident happened just after 8:30 p.m., on November 23. Sgt. Gregg Phillipson was working DUI detail nearby when the call came in.

“Officer (Brandon) Harris, who is one of our new were officers, he was right behind me and we both got there about the same time,” said Phillipson, a 16-year veteran of the Wilton police department.

With fire extinguishers in hand, they noticed that Stanfield, the lone occupant of the vehicle, was alert.

“Can you get out?" Phillipson can be heard asking Stanfield on his dash cam video Wilton police released Thursday.

But, there was a problem: both front doors of Stanfield's SUV were pinned shut by trees.

“Sergeant (Arnault) Baker went in through the rear tailgate. Sergeant (David) Hartman went in through the right side rear back door,” said Phillipson.

“He's lucky to be alive,” said a reflective Rosenthal.

And, this wasn't Sgt. Phillipson's first fiery car encounter. He came across one last winter, on his way back from the police academy.

“We couldn't get the guy out of the car. We couldn't get the fire to go out. And, uh, it was snowy at that time of year. So, we were throwing snow on the car,” said Phillipson

But, as with Stanfield, who did not respond to FOX 61’s requests for an interview, that driver was unharmed.

Police hope to have the investigation wrapped up within a week, but have not said if charges will be filed.