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Trooper Makes Rescue While Car Burns

A CONNECTICUT STATE TROOPER IS BEING CALLED A HERO today following his rescue of a woman from a burning car.

The officer had just started investigating a single-car wreck on I-95 Saturday afternoon when a woman driving a Volkswagon rear-ended his cruiser that was positioned to protect the accident scene.  The crash drove the cruiser forward into the officer, injuring him.  The VW then crashed into the car from the original accident a broke out in flames with the woman trapped inside.

trooper a register citizen

Citizen Register photo

The trooper managed to pull himself up and get to the burning car where he used his knife to cut her out from the seat belt and pull her out of the car before the flames reached her.

WTNH-TV Ch. 8 has the video report:

The Litchfield Register Citizen reports:

Witnesses said traffic had slowed due to the original accident and a warning was posted on the highway’s electronic signs. The speeding Volkswagen was using the breakdown lane to get around the traffic jam and smashed directly into the rear of the state police cruiser.

While all this was going on, a fourth car crashed head-on into the median barrier just behind the wreck scene.

The trooper and the other two drivers were transported to the Yale-New Haven hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Comments - Add Yours

  • http://www.Nlcfirephotos.blogspot.com/ Rob

    This story is quite different than what the Connecticut State Police has been releasing. Good work to the off-duty Fire Fighter!

    From the Connnecticut Post:

    Fiery crash victim rescued by NYC firefighter
    By Richard Weizel
    STAFF WRITER
    Updated: 12/14/2009 12:20:44 AM EST

    A veteran New York City firefighter on his way home from the Mohegan Sun casino is being credited with rescuing an Old Lyme woman from a fiery car wreck Saturday afternoon on Interstate 95, just as the 2003 Volkswagen Beetle became engulfed in flames.

    Vincent Sottile, 38, of Lindenhurst,

    N.Y., who works in Ladder 167 in the Flushing section of Queens, thought he had the day off Saturday and was making a leisurely ride back home from the Uncasville casino with his wife, Joanne.

    But what happened next, about 4 p.m, turned out to be “the most dramatic rescue I have ever made” during a 20-year career as a volunteer and paid firefighter, Sottile said.

    When he saw a car on fire on the northbound side of Interstate 95, he stopped his car on the southbound highway's left shoulder. Then, donning his own fire gear — which just happened to be in the car — jumped over an I-95 barrier just north of exit 41 in Orange to pull the woman, trapped, semi-conscious and surrounded by flames, out of her burning car.

    Others who frantically tried to help the woman were forced back by the flames, but Sottile said he was able to reach into the burning vehicle and pull out 56-year-old Janice Valliancourt.

    “She was on fire with smoke coming from her body and would have been dead in another minute,” Sottile said. “The state trooper on the scene was completely dazed from being involved in the multi-car accident and I was forced to go into his (cruiser's) trunk and take the flares to shut down the interstate. I couldn't believe what was happening.”

    He credits the trapped woman's heavily leathered boots with saving her from far more serious injury. “The boots were up past her knees, and were crispy and badly charred. But they protected her from having much more serious burns.” Sottile said he would never have been able to rescue the woman if he didn't have his gear to protect him from the raging flames.

    “It just makes the story that much more amazing because I just happened to have been on an assignment in another firehouse the day before we left, and I threw my gear in,” he said. “Ordinarily, I would not have had all of that with me.”

    A nursing supervisor at Yale-New Haven Hospital said Valliancourt was listed in fair condition about 4 p.m. Sunday.

    Several other people involved in the multi-car accident, that led to a massive traffic back-up on I-95, were treated and released at Yale-New Haven, and from several other area hospitals.

    Initial media reports that the state trooper had pulled the woman from the car are unfounded, according to Sottile, his wife and a spokesman for the FDNY.

    While Lt. J. Paul Vance, State Police spokesman, could not be reached for comment Sunday, he had indicated to media outlets Saturday that the trooper was the one who made his way to the burning car, cut the female driver's seatbelt and rescued her from the car.

    “I was there the whole time and my husband is the only one who got that woman out of the car,” Joanne Sottile said.

    State police have indicated a state trooper was investigating an accident near exit 41 when a car hit his cruiser, which then crashed into him. The car that hit the cruiser then caught on fire, which then spread to another car at the scene. The officer was out of his car investigating when the Volkswagen traveling in the left lane struck the rear of his cruiser and threw him into another stopped car, police said.

    The State Police Accident Reconstruction Unit is assisting in the investigation.

    Jim Long, director of public information for FDNY in Brooklyn, said the city is aware of Sottile's actions and plans to present him with some kind of citation.

    “We spoke with firefighter Sottile and he gave us a full account of what occurred, but he's a little humble about it,” Long said. “He knew something had to be done at the scene and acted accordingly to assist someone in need, and we are very proud of his actions. He acted in the best traditions of the FDNY and fire service in general. It's another example of someone from the FDNY doing something heroic.”

  • firegeezer

    Thanks, Rob!  Good catch.  This could get really interesting now.  The way things are these days, any moment now there will be a video posted on YouTube that will show us who made the grab.

    ________________________________

  • http://www.Nlcfirephotos.blogspot.com/ Rob

    This story is quite different than what the Connecticut State Police has been releasing. Good work to the off-duty Fire Fighter!

    From the Connnecticut Post:

    Fiery crash victim rescued by NYC firefighter
    By Richard Weizel
    STAFF WRITER
    Updated: 12/14/2009 12:20:44 AM EST

    A veteran New York City firefighter on his way home from the Mohegan Sun casino is being credited with rescuing an Old Lyme woman from a fiery car wreck Saturday afternoon on Interstate 95, just as the 2003 Volkswagen Beetle became engulfed in flames.

    Vincent Sottile, 38, of Lindenhurst,

    N.Y., who works in Ladder 167 in the Flushing section of Queens, thought he had the day off Saturday and was making a leisurely ride back home from the Uncasville casino with his wife, Joanne.

    But what happened next, about 4 p.m, turned out to be “the most dramatic rescue I have ever made” during a 20-year career as a volunteer and paid firefighter, Sottile said.

    When he saw a car on fire on the northbound side of Interstate 95, he stopped his car on the southbound highway's left shoulder. Then, donning his own fire gear — which just happened to be in the car — jumped over an I-95 barrier just north of exit 41 in Orange to pull the woman, trapped, semi-conscious and surrounded by flames, out of her burning car.

    Others who frantically tried to help the woman were forced back by the flames, but Sottile said he was able to reach into the burning vehicle and pull out 56-year-old Janice Valliancourt.

    “She was on fire with smoke coming from her body and would have been dead in another minute,” Sottile said. “The state trooper on the scene was completely dazed from being involved in the multi-car accident and I was forced to go into his (cruiser's) trunk and take the flares to shut down the interstate. I couldn't believe what was happening.”

    He credits the trapped woman's heavily leathered boots with saving her from far more serious injury. “The boots were up past her knees, and were crispy and badly charred. But they protected her from having much more serious burns.” Sottile said he would never have been able to rescue the woman if he didn't have his gear to protect him from the raging flames.

    “It just makes the story that much more amazing because I just happened to have been on an assignment in another firehouse the day before we left, and I threw my gear in,” he said. “Ordinarily, I would not have had all of that with me.”

    A nursing supervisor at Yale-New Haven Hospital said Valliancourt was listed in fair condition about 4 p.m. Sunday.

    Several other people involved in the multi-car accident, that led to a massive traffic back-up on I-95, were treated and released at Yale-New Haven, and from several other area hospitals.

    Initial media reports that the state trooper had pulled the woman from the car are unfounded, according to Sottile, his wife and a spokesman for the FDNY.

    While Lt. J. Paul Vance, State Police spokesman, could not be reached for comment Sunday, he had indicated to media outlets Saturday that the trooper was the one who made his way to the burning car, cut the female driver's seatbelt and rescued her from the car.

    “I was there the whole time and my husband is the only one who got that woman out of the car,” Joanne Sottile said.

    State police have indicated a state trooper was investigating an accident near exit 41 when a car hit his cruiser, which then crashed into him. The car that hit the cruiser then caught on fire, which then spread to another car at the scene. The officer was out of his car investigating when the Volkswagen traveling in the left lane struck the rear of his cruiser and threw him into another stopped car, police said.

    The State Police Accident Reconstruction Unit is assisting in the investigation.

    Jim Long, director of public information for FDNY in Brooklyn, said the city is aware of Sottile's actions and plans to present him with some kind of citation.

    “We spoke with firefighter Sottile and he gave us a full account of what occurred, but he's a little humble about it,” Long said. “He knew something had to be done at the scene and acted accordingly to assist someone in need, and we are very proud of his actions. He acted in the best traditions of the FDNY and fire service in general. It's another example of someone from the FDNY doing something heroic.”

  • firegeezer

    Thanks, Rob!  Good catch.  This could get really interesting now.  The way things are these days, any moment now there will be a video posted on YouTube that will show us who made the grab.

    ________________________________

  • http://www.Nlcfirephotos.blogspot.com/ Rob

    Lets Hope, CT has highway cameras in that area. Lets see if they loose the tapes.

  • http://www.Nlcfirephotos.blogspot.com/ Rob

    http://www.connpost.com/ci_13989913?source=most
    Bill this is a link to the article and a Photo of Vincent Sottile. If I find more I will send it to you.

  • http://www.Nlcfirephotos.blogspot.com/ Rob

    Lets Hope, CT has highway cameras in that area. Lets see if they loose the tapes.

  • http://www.Nlcfirephotos.blogspot.com/ Rob

    http://www.connpost.com/ci_13989913?source=most
    Bill this is a link to the article and a Photo of Vincent Sottile. If I find more I will send it to you.

  • Fear_or_Favor

    I love it when people make comments before they have the facts. And they bring their own baggage to the conversation. How vocal y'all gonna be when Vinny is shown to be the fraud he is? Clock's a-tickin'. Don't worry — all the papers who have been heralding the purported hero will probably fail to cover the TRUTH.

  • Fear_or_Favor

    I love it when people make comments before they have the facts. And they bring their own baggage to the conversation. How vocal y'all gonna be when Vinny is shown to be the fraud he is? Clock's a-tickin'. Don't worry — all the papers who have been heralding the purported hero will probably fail to cover the TRUTH.

  • Fear_or_Favor

    I love it when people make comments before they have the facts. And they bring their own baggage to the conversation. How vocal y'all gonna be when Vinny is shown to be the fraud he is? Clock's a-tickin'. Don't worry — all the papers who have been heralding the purported hero will probably fail to cover the TRUTH.

  • Fear_or_Favor

    I love it when people make comments before they have the facts. And they bring their own baggage to the conversation. How vocal y'all gonna be when Vinny is shown to be the fraud he is? Clock's a-tickin'. Don't worry — all the papers who have been heralding the purported hero will probably fail to cover the TRUTH.