Alexander Tezsla helped to rescue Robert E. Erickson, Jr., from burning, East Brunswick, New Jersey, July 8, 2004. Erickson, 32, remained in the driver’s seat of a tractor-trailer after an interstate highway accident in which the vehicle collided with a dump truck and caught fire in its engine area. Tezsla, 34, a state trooper patrolling the area, came upon the scene within moments. He tried to gain access to the tractor cab but found that both of its doors were jammed shut. Tezsla then mounted the fuel tank on the driver’s side of the tractor and broke out the window of the driver’s door. Smoke had filled the cab, and flames were entering it at Erickson’s feet. A delivery driver also stopped at the scene, and he and Tezsla pried the door open enough for the driver to use his fire extinguisher to calm the flames somewhat in the cab. Tezsla and the driver, who also mounted the wreckage, grasped Erickson and lowered him to the pavement, then they dragged him to safety on the highway shoulder. Flames grew and spread quickly to envelope the rig, which was destroyed. Erickson was taken to the hospital for treatment of burns to his legs and smoke inhalation. Tezsla also was taken to the hospital, where he was treated for smoke inhalation and a cut to his right hand. He recovered.
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