TENAFLY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A sport-utility vehicle went up in flames this past weekend with a woman trapped inside, and the Good Samaritans and quick-moving first responders were being called heroes late Monday.
As CBS2’s Alice Gainer reported, the driver crashed into a tree along Riveredge Road in Tenafly, New Jersey around 11 p.m. Sunday. Her car became fully engulfed in flames.READ MORE: Viral Video Shows Unmasked NYPD Officer Pushing Masked Commuter Out Of Subway Station
“I heard two loud noises, and I came out here, and the car was between this tree and the other tree,” said retired firefighter Robert Fuller.
Fuller heard the crash on his property and immediately called 911.
“The flames were about 15 feet high,” he said.
James Pannone and his 15-year-old son, Michael, were driving by when Michael noticed a faint orange glow.
“I told my dad: ‘Listen, we should turn around. Maybe there’s a car fire.’”
James Pannone, also a firefighter, went back.
“I got to the vehicle. The lady was completely passed out. She was not responsive,” he said. “I tried to get her out. I couldn’t reach because the dashboard and firewall had crashed onto her legs. I couldn’t get her out. I couldn’t get to the button to release the seatbelt.”
At that point, the first responders showed up. James Pannone assisted with keeping the flames at bay using a fire extinguisher, while police officers and firefighters worked to cut the driver from her seat belt.READ MORE: Eligible New Jersey Residents Urged To Get COVID Booster Shot
Neighbors watching were quick to praise everyone’s efforts.
“He pulled her out just in time before the car got engulfed,” said neighbor Andy McNeil. “So the police officers here in Tenafly did a good job.”
Police said initial indications are that the driver lost control while trying to navigate a curve. She crossed over and crashed into the tree.
At this point, the woman has only been identified as being 39 years old and from Teaneck.
The cause of the crash was under investigation late Monday, and no charges had been filed.
The woman was taken to Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack with serious injuries.
The Pannones on Monday were hoping the woman was OK. Meanwhile, Michael said he would prefer not to follow in his father’s firefighter footsteps.
“Not really,” he said. “It seems too stressful.”
But Michael did say he would come to the rescue all over again if he had to.MORE NEWS: NYS Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs Apologizes For Comments About Buffalo Mayoral Primary Winner India Walton
Police on Monday were also thanking James and Michael Pannone for stopping to help.