MELVILLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — An NYPD officer made a heroic rescue when he was off the clock after spotting a man trapped inside a burning car on the Northern State Parkway on Long Island.
Flames fully engulfed the car flipped on its side. Just minutes before, the injured driver was trapped inside.
“Stuck in the driver seat, by the seat belt unable to free himself and I was also unable to release the seat belt,” NYPD Officer Jason Bernfeld said.
Bernfeld was on his way to work Monday morning when he noticed tail lights in the woods on the westbound side of the Northern State near the Round Swamp exit.
“It’s the first time that I really rolled up to an accident where nobody else had stopped,” he said. “Nobody else had noticed it which was weird to me, I don’t know how I spotted it.”
As he was talking to the driver trying to help him, he says the underside of the driver side began to light up.
“The plastic started to melt and drip,” Bernfeld said. “He was quite afraid.”
The NYPD veteran is also a chief of the Melville Fire Department.
“Ran up to my truck and got my extinguisher and seatbelt cutter, hit the fire quick with the extinguisher preventing it from burning him any further, cut the seatbelt which caused him to drop then grabbed thim, dragged him out the back window,” Bernfeld said.
He says shortly after that the fire consumed the vehicle. Melville firefighters and rescue personnel arrived and put out the blaze. EMTs brought the man, who appeared to have burns on his legs, to Nassau University Medical Center.
Bernfeld has shown to be a modest hero.
“Any police officer, firefighter, anybody would’ve done the same thing,” he said. “I mean, even I think a civilian that would’ve stopped it would’ve encountered that, would’ve tried to do the same thing.”
The driver is expected to be okay. It wasn’t clear what caused the crash, but he did tell Bernfeld he was on his way to work at the time.