Police Honored for Rescue in Barnegat
Three officers recognized for pulling man from a burning car.
Several Barnegat police officers were recognized last night at the Township Committee meeting for their bravery in responding to a serious motor vehicle accident on Aug. 31, during which they pulled a man from a burning car.
"It is the Township Committee's great honor to acknowledge, with sincere gratitude, the heroic actions of these officers in saving the life of an Ocean County resident," Mayor Al Cirulli said, reading from a proclamation recognizing Patrolmen Nicholas Venuto, Andrew Parsley, and George Martin.
"It's a great honor to be recognized for what we did, this was a nice thing for the township to do," Venuto told Patch in an interview during the meeting. "But with that said being said, it wasn't about the acknowledgement, it was about doing the right thing. Anyone, police officer or not, would've handled this the same way. We're talking about a human being's life."
On Aug. 31st at 10:35 p.m., Venuto, Parsley, and Martin responded to a serious motor vehicle accident on Route 72. The officers arrived on scene to find a 1987 Chrysler Fifth Avenue had left the roadway and crashed into trees. The vehicle was on fire, and Agnelo Pereira, 86, of Waretown, was trapped in the vehicle.
Police said at the time Pereira appeared to have suffered a "medical episode" and was not only trapped in the vehicle, but was clutching the steering wheel which he refused to release. Officers were able to pull Pereira through the driver's side front window of the vehicle and drag him to safety.
Periera was transported by Barnegat First Aid Squad ambulance to a nearby airfield where he was airlifted by MONOC medevac helicopter to AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center with serious burns to both arms and rib injuries.
Both Ptl. Venuto, who suffered smoke inhalation, and Ptl. Martin who suffered second degree burns to both arms remained on scene for over an hour fulfilling their duties.
"The actions of these three officers is nothing short of heroic. These officers did not have protective gear or oxygen masks. Despite that fact, and despite the fact that they were suffering burns and smoke inhalation, they refused to leave that burning vehicle without Mr. Pereira. With this rescue, they demonstrated incredible bravery and courage, and exemplified the greatest traditions of our profession," Lieutenant Keith Germain said in a press release about the accident.