A rookie cop in New Jersey cop a real test of his training over the weekend thanks to a trial by fire — literally.
Howell Township Police Officer Nocholas Volpe was seen on bodycam and his vehicle's dash cam rescuing a man from a burning car on the side of the road Saturday evening. The officer ran up to the car after it had struck a tree, with clouds of smoke billowing out from it and the flames already spreading.
"I see the car start to smoke, then kind of light up in flames" Volpe said.
He can be heard on the video released by the Howell Police Department telling the driver to get out of the car by hopping out of the window, because the door was jammed shut.
"There was no way he was getting out of there. Looking back on it, I don't think he would have because how fast the fire started," Volpe said.
Cellphone video taken by Howell Police Chief Andy Kudrick seconds later shows how quickly the car became a fireball, with an explosion possible at any moment. Volpe said that the first thing on his mind was to get the man out and to safety as soon as possible. The officer is seen on dash cam desperately wrestling the man in his 50s through the open driver-side window.
"My adrenaline was running. Once I pulled up, I kind of saw what was happening step-by-step and said, you know, this is what I probably gotta do," Volpe said. "So that what I'm expected to do, so that's what I do."
The limping victim was helped over to the officer's cruiser, Volpe supporting him along the way. The man was returning from a funeral when he glanced down at his cell phone before the crash. Volpe drove the driver home to his anxious family, after the flames finally consumed the vehicle.
"He was very grateful for what happened, and he thanked me for saving his life," Volpe said.
In a matter of seconds, the rookie officer — still on probation — became a hero. But Chief Kudrick said Volpe, a former football player at Montclair State University, won't have to worry about being on probation for much longer.