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DRPA Police Honored For Heroism In Camden County
The Camden County Hero Scholarship Fund will honor nine Delaware River Port Authority police officers next week for valor in the line of duty during two separate emergencies in 2011.
In both cases, DRPA officers rescued people imperiled by fire. Five of the officers escorted passengers from a smoke-filled rail car. Four others saved a girl trapped in a burning automobile.
The officers will accept their awards on February 24 during the 46th Annual Hero Scholarship Fund Dinner at Lucien’s Manor in Berlin.
“My officers acted selflessly to protect lives in danger,” said DRPA Police Chief David McClintock. “They put a commitment to public safety before a regard for their own safety. Their actions demonstrate a collective commitment to protecting and serving the people who cross our bridges and ride our trains, and I’m proud of them.”
Chief Executive Officer John J. Matheussen said the entire DRPA shared McClintock’s pride.
“Dozens of people are alive or unhurt today because of the valor, dedication and professionalism our law enforcement officers exhibited on two occasions when those three qualities were most in need,” Matheussen said. “We extend our gratitude and congratulations to these dedicated officers.”
In the early morning of April 16, 2011, a small explosion under PATCO rail car caused it to fill with smoke. The train had just arrived at City Hall Station in Camden and was brimming with passengers who had boarded in Philadelphia.
Officer Joseph Graziano, already aboard the train, immediately told the operator to open all train doors. Graziano then called for fire fighters, EMS and police back-up. He began escorting passengers through heavy smoke from the train to street level.
Although he was beginning to suffer from smoke inhalation, Graziano kept working until Officers Robert Crean, J.T. Hogan, Sean Longfellow and Hugh McIntyre arrived to help move passengers, including one in a wheelchair, from the car to street level.
Just after midnight on November 4, 2011, Officer Larry Goodwin saw a northbound car on Interstate 676 fail to negotiate a turn. The car left the roadway, struck a light pole and burst into flames. Two passengers ran from the vehicle.
Goodwin called for back-up, fire fighters and EMS. Then he ran to the car with a fire extinguisher and began to fight the fire.
Suddenly, one of the passengers began screaming: “My sister is in the back seat!”
Sergeant Christopher Bell, Corporal Tim Hoagland and Officer Matthew Murray arrived at the scene. The four officers tried to beat down the flames with Goodwin’s fire extinguisher, but the trapped girl was fully engulfed in flames. Bell smothered the flames with his coat and hands and pulled the girl out, while the other officers backed the remaining passengers further away from the blazing car
Although rescued, the trapped girl was in critical condition. Hoagland, who is also a N.J. certified emergency medical technician, administered oxygen and kept her airway open until advanced life support arrived and transported her to Cooper University Hospital.
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