A few weeks ago, on what started as a quiet Saturday morning, I witnessed what could have been a scene from a police drama.
A car across the street from me had hit the rear end of a parked car. My dogs alerted me to something going on, and looking out my living room window I could see the car had started on fire and the person in the vehicle was still inside.
Just as I was about to call 911 a police officer came running up to the car. Within these few seconds the entire front end of the car was on fire, and the rear end of the car that was hit had started on fire also.
The fire grew at an alarming rate, and the officer was pounding on the driver’s window shouting, “Open the door, open the door!” The driver was unresponsive and the quick thinking officer used his baton to break the window. He got the door open and was trying to remove the driver. He had to pull him quickly and forcefully to get him out, and they both fell pretty hard on the street.
You could tell the officer hurt himself in the fall, but quickly got up and started to drag the driver away from the car. At this time another officer had arrived and helped pull the man out of harm’s way. The officer then staggered a few steps and fell into a snowbank.
I grabbed a couple of small blankets and ran them outside. That was when I noticed the injured officer was Nick Benvenuto, a friend of my daughter’s. The mother in me wanted to run over and coddle him, but the scene was becoming chaotic with all the emergency vehicles and a raging fire, so I felt it would be better if I just went back inside.
Both Nick and the driver were taken by ambulance, with Nick suffering some injuries from the fall.
Watching something like that on TV can be exciting, but watching it out your living room is terrifying. I am in awe of the courage and bravery of Nick. He never hesitated to approach that burning vehicle and do what he had to do in order to save that driver, putting his own life at risk.
That is the definition of a hero. Thank you Nick, for all you do every day to protect and serve our city, and thank you to the entire police department, fire department and EMS for being there when people need you the most.