Jim Cunningham, Hero Cop: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Police Officer Jim Cunningham, a member of the San Francisco Police Department, was one of the first responders to the wreckage of Asiana flight 214 when it crashed while trying to land at San Francisco International Airport on Saturday.

According to reports, Cunningham charged aboard the burning plane to save the people trapped.

Here is what you need to know about this heroic first responder:

1. He Was One of the First on the Scene

According to Officer Cunningham’s recollection of the events of the plane crash, he hailed down an ambulance and made it follow him as he sped over the runway toward the crashed plane. As he was arriving, Cunningham said, he saw the emergency chutes deploying from the front of the plane as well as a number of individuals who had been helped out by the plane’s crew, sitting on the runway.

2. He Tossed Knives to the Flight Crew

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Oxygen masks hang from the ceiling in the cabin interior of Asiana Airlines flight 214. (Getty)

As Cunningham approached, crew members shouted that they needed knives to cut trapped passengers out of their seats. He and his fellow first responders “tossed” their knives to the crew. It was then that he realized that the wing of the plane, a Boeing 777, was leaking copious amounts of gasoline.

3. He Dashed Onto the Plane Without Protective Gear

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Realizing the plane could explode at any minute, he rushed onboard in just his uniform, clearing luggage out of the way to make room for the fire crew, paramedics and injured passengers. It was only after the cabin filled with thick smoke that he and his fellow officers left the plane.

4. He Saved People and Their Possessions

jim cunningham san francisco plane crash cop

After Cunningham had assisted in the removal of injured passengers on stabilizing backboards, he rooted through the rubble to make sure he did not overlook a stranded person, writes the San Francisco Chronicle. That’s when he saw an iPhone. Cunningham reportedly saw that the background image on the phone was a picture of a mother and daughter and knew that someone would be looking for it. He also grabbed the abandoned cell phone of a crew member and brought both phones with him.

5. His Brother Also Is a Hero Cop

Jim Cunningham san francisco plane crash

Jim, in the center, with his two police office brothers and his parents. (Images of America: San Francisco Police Department)

According to an excerpt from the book Images of America: San Francisco Police Department, Jim Cunningham’s brothers are also officers in the San Francisco Police Department. They’re the only brother trio on the force, and one of the brothers, Dan, got recognition in the 1990s for apprehending a fugitive featured on America’s Most Wanted.

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