Jeffrey W. Caldwell helped to save Frances L. and Harris J. Kaplan from burning, Ewing, New Jersey, January 18, 2012. Injured, Frances, 81, and her son, Harris, 54, remained inside a van that had crashed into a wooden utility pole. The pole, which supported a transformer and high-voltage electric and other utility lines, broke off and fell along the passenger side of the van, blocking access to the passenger doors. Fallen lines draped over the driver’s side of the vehicle and lay near it. Caldwell, 43, police officer, responded to the scene and, with other officers, concluded that the lines were live. When fire broke out at the rear of the vehicle, they concluded also that there was insufficient time to await power company response. With a tool from his car, Caldwell maneuvered among the fallen lines to the driver’s side of the van and broke out the window of the driver’s door to access the door’s inside handle. He opened the door, leaned into the vehicle, and grasped Frances. As he pulled her from the van, two other officers standing amid the lines adjacent the vehicle also grasped her, and all three men took her from the van to safety. Despite growing flames on the vehicle, they returned to the driver’s side and assisted Harris out and to safety. Flames shortly engulfed the van and burned intensely. Frances was hospitalized for treatment of numerous injuries, and Harris also required hospital treatment. Neither was burned, and they recovered. Caldwell sustained a laceration to his finger from which he recovered.
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