Retired Police Officer Rescues Man from Burning Car

By Audrewy Washington
|  Tuesday, Jul 23, 2013  |  Updated 6:54 PM EDT
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Retired Cop Saves Man From Burning SUV

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Retired Cop Saves Man From Burning SUV

A retired Milford PD Sergeant traveling to see family in New Jersey helped pull a man from a burning car.
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A retired police officer from Milford rescued a man from a burning SUV in New Jersey on Saturday.

Retired Milford police sergeant Joe Della Monica Jr. said he was on his way to his cousin's surprise party when he and his family noticed another driver swerving and speeding along the Garden State Parkway.

"And my wife looked at me and said, ‘You know that guy is going to cause an accident,” Della Monica said.

And the driver did. He crashed his vehicle into a tree near an overpass and the SUV caught on fire.

Within seconds, Della Monica jumped into action.

"So I punched the window out in the back of the SUV and I crawled through the vehicle to make sure nobody else was in it because he couldn't tell us. I tried to get his legs out," Della Monica said.

Della Monica said the driver was badly hurt and unconsciousness.

He said a NYPD officer and an off-duty fireman were also at the scene to help.

"When we finally got him over the other side of the guardrail, whole inside of the car had been engulfed and by the time we took 20 steps, the car literally exploded. It was like something on TV,” Della Monica said.

The driver, who New Jersey State Police identified as 55 year old John Gordnick, survived.

Police have not said what caused Gordnick to lose control.

After Della Monica said learned Gordnick was OK, he decided to head to the party.

"When I showed up for the surprise party, all bloody, like surprise! I don’t think my cousin was expecting that, but it all turned out well. The gentleman survived, nobody that helped got hurt, so it was a good day," Della Monica said.

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