What to Know
- Two off-duty officers rescued a man from a fiery crash in the Bronx that killed a woman
- The woman was driving the Dodge Charger with the man as a passenger when the car flipped and then exploded moments later
- Two off-duty officers leaving a nearby firing range rushed to the vehicle and were able to save the man, but the woman died at the scene
Two off-duty officers pulled a man, later identified as another officer, from a flaming car in the Bronx Wednesday night following a horrific crash that left another cop dead and witnesses traumatized, according to police.
The dramatic rescue happened moments after a Dodge Charger carrying the woman and the man flipped over and erupted into flames on Park Drive around 11:45 p.m.
Police believe the dead officer, identified as 27-year-old Bianca Bennett of Queens, lost control of the Charger as she got off Park Drive on City Island Circle. The vehicle flipped over and was consumed by fire, according to witnesses, who said they were left traumatized by what they saw.
Witnesses said Bennett, a rookie officer who polices in Manhattan, and the man were painfully screaming for help when two off-duty officers who had just left the NYPD’s Rodman's Neck firing range rushed towards the smoking wreckage.
The officers said they held their breaths as they ran to the smoldering vehicle and pulled the man to safety. The woman was unresponsive and severely burned. Moments later, the Charger exploded.
“Instantly it started like exploding,” witness Alex Corleone said. “I’m sure the fuel, the radiator, all that… you know?”
Witness Pamella Duncan said other drivers in the area got out of their vehicles to help but couldn’t make it in time.
“When it turned over, everybody stopped their car and tried to run over there to it, but nobody could get to it because it blew up,” Duncan said.
Witness Brandon Garcia said he didn't think there was anything firefighters could do once the vehicle exploded.
“The flames were nothing like I've ever seen in my life. They were just huge. It was almost like surreal,” Garcia said. “Especially with all the fire, the flames and the screams. It's pretty traumatizing.”
The man was rushed to Jacobi Medical Center in critical condition with trauma and burns to both legs. He was later identified as a 32-year-old off-duty officer.
Police said Bennett was burned beyond recognition and died at the scene; it took hours to identify her. Her relation to the man is unknown.
The two off-duty officers were also taken to Jacobi Medical Center to be treated for minor smoke inhalation.
The Highway Patrol is investigating the crash.
Bennett just graduated the police academy last October. Neighbor Aurora Cunningham said she was "loved by all" and called her a "lovely young lady."
At the 9th Precinct stationhouse where she worked, purple bunting was hung Thursday in her memory.