The EMT who was present for Jessica Chambers' final words prays every night that her family finds justice after the 19-year-old was set on fire in her car on Dec. 6, 2014, in Courtland, Mississippi. After the second mistrial for her alleged killer, Quinton Tellis, Investigation Discovery is diving deep into how the clear racial divide in and out of the courtroom has some fearing Chambers' killer will never face justice in Jessica Chambers: An ID Murder Mystery, premiering Friday, November 27 at 9 p.m. ET on ID.
Ahead of the two-hour documentary special's premiere, Daniel Cole, Director of Spinola County Emergency Operations, recalled to PopCulture.com responding to a call about a burning car on a rural road, reliving the traumatic moment he and other first responders saw a severely burned Chambers coming towards them.
"I didn't even ask her if it was an accident, I just asked her who did this to her," Cole said. As Chambers attempted to answer first responders' questions about her identity and the identity of her killer, Cole knew the pressure was on to absorb everything he could understand before she was either intubated or passed away, but her speech was almost indecipherable amid her injuries. "I had seen burn patients before, but that was the first time I had someone talking to me that was trying to give me information. ...Your anxiety, your stress level is high, and I think it was just as stressful for her as it was for us."
"She knew we couldn't understand her, and she was getting frustrated with us," he remembered, "and we were getting frustrated, because the more we asked, the more labored her speech and breathing would become." Ultimately, the EMTs passed on to police that she had said "Derek" or "Eric," but Cole now thinks she was trying to communicate something else they couldn't quite understand after police found no connection to those names in her life.
After a frustrating and difficult investigation, Tellis, a friend of Chambers, was ultimately charged in her death, but the case remains open after not one, but two mistrials. Meanwhile, Tellis was also arrested in Louisiana and charged with murder for the 2015 death of Ming-Chen Hsiao, a recent college grad who was found stabbed to death. Tellis is accused of using her debit card following her killing.
For Cole, the night is just as vivid now as it was six years ago. "It was [traumatic]," the first responder shared. "It’s not anything you choose to relive, but it’s also something you can't get rid of. I'd be lying if I said I didn't think about that day every day." A number of other first responders that night left the profession altogether, haunted by the experience, he said.
Now, as he looks back on that night, Cole prays for justice for the young girl whose final moments to which he paid witness. "That's my prayer every night — that Jessica gets her justice, and that her family gets the closure they deserve. No matter how long it takes, I hope they never stop trying to put the pieces together." Jessica Chambers: An ID Murder Mystery, premieres Friday, November 27 at 9 p.m. ET on ID. For more on Investigation Discovery's latest shows from PopCulture, click here.