State troopers, passersby rescue man from burning car in Middlebury

(Connecticut State Police)

MIDDLEBURY, Conn. (WTNH)– The afternoon ride turned fiery on Interstate-84 Westbound near exit 17 in Middlebury on Monday.

A 26 year-old man’s car turned into a cloud of smoke with flames shooting out. State troopers rushed to the scene to try to get that driver out of his car.

Troopers John McGeever, Michael Dogali and Mitchell Welch had no time to waste.

“We gotta get this guy out of his car,” said Trooper First Class McGeever.

“It’s just knowing that the flames in car fires spread quickly and if you don’t get him out it’s going to be catastrophic,” said Sgt. Dogali.

“You’re doing whatever you can to get him out,” said Trooper Welch.

Sgt. Dogali was actually travelling on I-84 and happened to be in the right place at the right time. He got there first and tried busting out one of the windows.

“I saw the operator who was knocked around from the crash and he was actually wedged under the dashboard and steering wheel,” he said.

The other troopers got there and they all made a decision to reach in, grab the driver, and pull.

“Basically it was a life or death situation at that point,” Trooper Welch said.

And they didn’t do it alone. By that time, some passerbys stopped and ran over to help them. They all managed to work as a team and save the driver’s life. His name has not yet been released, but State Police say he’s from White Plains, New York. He’s still in the hospital but his injuries are not life-threatening.

Some of the troopers who pulled off the rescue suffered cuts to their hands. They say they hope to find out who those good Samaritan strangers were who stopped to help. They’d like to recognize them for their bravery.

As for the brave state troopers who were there — they don’t consider themselves heroes at all.

They say this was all in a day’s work.

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