Officer Dennis Brillhart was patrolling in North Codorus Township when he saw a faint light in a darkened field at about 1:30 a.m. Sunday, the release states.
Brillhart first thought the light came from someone checking his or her traps, but when the light didn't move, he became suspicious and walked toward it.
The temperature was below freezing that morning, and snow continued to fall in the area. As Brillhart walked toward the vehicle, he saw various items on the ground, including clothing and a child's car seat.
When he had walked about 150 feet, he realized the light was the headlight from a vehicle, police said.
The 1996 Jeep Cherokee was nose down in a small stream and only one headlight was burning.
He called to see if anyone would answer, but got no response. Brillhart then ran back to the road, crossed a bridge and went back to the vehicle from the opposite side of the stream. Again, he called, but no one answered.
He heard a faint rustling from across the water, but didn't know what was making the noise, police said.
Lying against a tree on a very steep bank of the stream, he found Douglas D. Morris, 28, of Hanover, the release states.
Morris was unconscious and bleeding from the head.
He had very little clothing to protect him from the freezing temperatures and snow, police said.
While the officer waited for medics to arrive, he answered a ringing cellphone that was found in the vehicle and told a family member of the crash, the release states.
As of Wednesday morning, Morris was still in the Intensive Care Unit of York Hospital, police said.
Police later found that the vehicle cross the eastbound lane of traffic on Salem Road before it slid on its side and became airborne.
It isn't known how long Morris was laying in the underbrush, police said.
"Our department is very pleased that Officer Dennis Brillhart was able to observe the one thing that would allow anyone to observe the crash scene, the faintly lit headlight," Chief Greg Bean wrote in the news release. ". . .This incident is another example of his work ethic."
Bean later said that Brillhart has been with the department since it formed in 2002 and before that, served five years with what was previously North Codorus Township Police and a prior five years with Littlestown Borough Police.
"It doesn't surprise me that he took the effort to find the man," Bean said. "Being curious is one of his attributes and it certainly paid off here."
Beans said he wasn't sure of the type of injuries Morris was facing, but that they hoped to be in touch with his family for more information.