State police and a passerby rescued a trapped driver from a burning vehicle in Middlebury on Monday.
Troopers said the victim, 26-year-old Patrick Lamorgese of New York, was involved in a crash on Interstate 84 westbound by exit 17 in Middlebury. The rescue was recorded through a responding trooper's dash cam.
"Car fires spread quickly and if you don't get them out, it'll be catastrophic," Connecticut State Police Sgt. Michael Dogali said.
Dogali was technically off the clock when the call came in on Monday. When he arrived, they found the vehicle on the side of the highway on fire.
"You just take action and do it," Dogali said.
In seconds, Dogali was on the scene and broke the window with this baton. That's when he realized this rescue was not going to be easy.
"I saw the operator who had been knocked around from the crash. He was actually wedged under the dashboard and steering wheel," Dogali said.
With one eye on the growing fire and one on the trapped victim, Dogali said he was running out of time.
"I was concerned that the flames were going to spread to the passenger compartment and reach the operator," Dogali said.
Troopers John McGeever and Mitchell Welch arrived on the scene.
"It's game time, we gotta go," McGeever said. "It's what you've been preparing for your whole life."
"You're there to save the guy's life, so you're trying to stay calm and you don't want to hurry through things," Welch said.
Together, they had to make calculations fast. They reached their arms into the shattered glass and was able to free the victim, who through the fog of confusion and fear, offered nothing but gratitude.
"He was just saying thank you, thank you so much, I appreciate what you guys do," Welch said.
State police said the tires started exploding about 20 seconds after pulling Lamorgese out of the vehicle.
Lamorgese was brought to an area hospital for evaluation of minor injuries, troopers said. Two troopers received minor cuts to their hands from a broken window.
While these three troopers said they were just doing their job, they too saw this video and unlike most, they watch with a critical eye.
"Why did we try and mess with the door? But it worked out well," McGeever said. "When you walk home at the end of the day, it's a good day."
There's no word on what caused the crash.
However, Lamorgese has been issued an infraction for failure to maintain his lane. He was also found to be driving on a suspended NY license, according to state police.
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