VIDEO: off-duty officer rescues elderly man from NY gas station fire

News 12/CNN
Thursday, June 12, 2014 - 9:57am

A terrifying scene at a New York gas station, as a crash leads to a fiery explosion at the pumps.

But a fearless off-duty police officer risked his own life -- to pull a badly hurt driver to safety.

And all this was caught on video!

In literally a blink of an eye, John Vescio, seen in the video wearing a number 13 Yankee’s jersey, went from being a commuter to a rescuer.

Vescio is a senior investigator with the New York State Police, based in New York City.

Last Tuesday, while off duty, he stopped at the Mobil station on the Hutchinson river parkway, to gas up his unmarked state police car.

"I was standing there at the pump and the only thing I remember hearing was a speeding car; somebody that was entering into the gas station at a higher rate of speed than normal."

Video from a security camera at the station caught what happened next.

A 69-year-old man who was driving into the station, apparently blacked out, slamming into the gas pump and cars stopped there, including Vescio's.

"The next think I know, the pump was coming down on top of me," Vescio told CNN affiliate News 12.

Even though he was bruised, that's when John Vescio's training and 20 years with the state police kicked in.

He pulled the driver from the car as flames began to spread, saving the man's life.

But getting him out of the car was not easy.

"You could see the way his legs were tucked under by the seat. His seatbelt was on. He was pretty much helpless," Vescio explained.

As is the nature of police culture, Vescio is getting some good natured ribbing from his colleagues. But his boss makes it clear, what he did was very special.

"John was a civilian at the time. You see him in his Yankee jersey and shorts, and he becomes a victim and then he becomes a hero," NY State Police Major Keith Corlett told NEWS 12.

(Reporter): "Do you feel like a hero?"

(John Vescio): "I just feel like me."

Vescio has visited with the unidentified man, whom he saved and says the man and his family are grateful for what he did.

And it clearly could have ended a lot worse.

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