An off-duty New York cop and a volunteer firefighter saved the life of a woman trapped inside her burning, overturned vehicle after a dangerous crash on the Long Island Expressway last week.
Melissa Ortiz was driving east in Ronkonkoma when she collided with a National Grid vehicle at around 10:50 a.m., causing her vehicle to flip over and catch fire.
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As Ortiz’s Ford Expedition started becoming engulfed in flames, Suffolk County Highway Patrol Bureau Officer Thomas Mutarelli, who was off-duty, and Jeffrey Dupoux, a volunteer firefighter with the Elmont Fire Department, happened to be driving by in their separate vehicles.
“The SUV was on its roof, the driver’s side door jam was crushed,” Mutarelli said. “The woman was inside with a seat belt on, and her neck and head was bent onto the roof of the truck.”
The two sprang into action.
“We had no time to try to put the fire out,” Mutarelli said. “Mr. Dupoux unleashed her seat belt, I cradled her and pulled her out of the passenger side window.”
Mutarelli and Dupoux managed to get Ortiz out of the car just in time. Flames completely engulfed it soon after.
“As we were pulling her out, it started to grow, so it was basically on fire when we arrived on scene,” Dupoux said of the overturned vehicle.
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Ortiz and Frederick Foote, the driver of the National Grid truck, were transported to an area hospital. They’re both expected to survive their injuries, thanks to the actions of Mutarelli and Dupoux.
“These two men are truly guardian angels who were at the right place, at the right time,” Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini said. “This is truly an act of bravery and professionalism.”