NORTH BRUNSWICK, N.J. — A New Jersey police officer and another man risked their lives to pull two women from a burning car Wednesday afternoon.
North Brunswick Police Officer Anthony Torres was on patrol on Route 130 at around 3 p.m. when he noticed people pulling over and running toward the tree line, where smoke was billowing skyward. He circled back and saw a car had crashed into a tree, leaving the driver pinned down.
"As soon as I got there, I knew I was going to have to go back and cut the seat belt," Torres said.
He pulled a knife from his cruiser and slashed the seat belt, but the car doors were stuck. A fire was now growing under the hood.
Officer Torres' body camera video shows that the driver's airbags had gone off and she was in a daze. There was also one other passenger in the car who was alert.
"Can you come out?" Torres can be heard yelling to the women as the growing fire sends smoke into the vehicle.
"Come on get her out! Come on guys," a bystander can be heard yelling on the video.
Joshua Sandoval was in his backyard — feet away from the accident — when he heard the crash. Sandoval’s family and a neighbor had to evacuate their homes, in case the car exploded. But Sandoval ran towards the danger.
Sandoval grabbed onto the metal car door and helped bend it back with Officer Torres and other eyewitnesses.
"We just kept pulling, pulling and pulling," Sandoval said. "I’m like come on, there is no excuse. At this point we have to get this open."
After the men bent the door back, the passenger was able to climb out. Officer Torres and another man dragged the driver out and away from the flames.
"They’re human beings," Sandoval said. "It’s not a matter of thinking about it. It’s a matter of getting the action done."
The cause of the accident is still unknown.
"I’m just glad it worked out OK, that we were able to remove her from the vehicle and get her to safety," said Officer Torres.
Moments after the rescue, the car erupted into flames. Both women are expected to recover.