FAIRMONT, Minn. -- Fairmont police officer Chad Sanow's fingers poke through his uniform where a lead shot nearly barreled through his chest, only to be stopped by his bullet proof vest.
For the past 15 years Sanow has worn a vest and on October 26th, 2010, it saved his life.
"The round hit me, and my body wrapped around that round, I flew back and I remember my body turning facing west in the air," said
Sanow was responding to a 9-1-1 call of a fire when he and other emergency responders were ambushed.
Investigators say the man living in the home at the time, Michael Mathwig, planned his attack.
Mathwig lit the fire and used accelerant so it would burn hotter than normal.
He also left windows open to let the fire breathe.
He then waited in a neighbor's yard for responders to arrive.
Sanow says he was just there for seconds when shots rang out.
"Boom, boom, boom and then I heard a fourth shot when I was taking cover to protect the fire chief and Matt VanWatermulen," said Sanow.
Detectives said Mathig had two weapons one he was using and another hidden.
Also hidden were rounds of ammunition which were found afterwards throughout the property.
Arrested for indecent exposure back in 2009, Mathwig was not on the police's radar screen.
He may have, however, had a problem with the Fairmont police nearly 20 years ago which could have triggered his actions.
He died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The survivors of the ordeal were reunited today as Officer Sanow received a new vest in a simple exchange which has made a lifetime of difference.
(Copyright 2010 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)