Michael A. Pellegrino 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. Pellegrino, 37, 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. Pellegrino maneuvered among the fallen lines to the driver’s side of the van. After one of the other officers broke the window of the driver’s door and opened the door, Pellegrino and a third officer joined in the effort to remove Frances from the van. They took her 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. Pellegrino was treated for a minor eye injury, and he too recovered.
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