YORKTOWN, N.Y. - James Talbert, an officer with the New York City Police Department, has been bestowed with the New York State Senate Liberty Medal for his heroic actions on July 26, when he rescued a woman and her dog from a flaming car in Shrub Oak. State Sen. Terrence Murphy (R-Yorktown) honored Talbert, a Mahopac resident, during a press conference on Wednesday, Sept. 12, at Patriot Park in Yorktown Heights. The Liberty Medal is one of the highest civilian honors a New Yorker can receive.
“This doesn’t happen too often, giving out New York State’s highest honor, the Liberty Medal,” Murphy said. “It’s for bravery, it’s for exceptional service.”
According to a report in the New York Daily News, the 27-year-old Mahopac resident was driving north on the Taconic State Parkway just after midnight when he saw the fiery wreck near exit 20.
Debris was scattered about and the burning Toyota was lying on its passenger side, according to the Daily News. Instinct kicked in and Talbert used a glass-breaker device on his keychain to shatter the sunroof and free the 59-year-old woman.
After the woman called for her dog, Talbert broke the back window and also saved her Yorkshire terrier. The woman, who suffered lacerations on her legs, was transported to Westchester Medical Center in stable condition. The dog was uninjured.
“It was just natural; something you can’t drive past,” Talbert said. “It was natural for me to stop. I didn’t think twice.”
Talbert has been with the NYPD for three years and is currently stationed at the 44th precinct in the Bronx. According to the Daily News, he was treated at NewYork-Presbyterian Hudson Valley Hospital for cuts on his hands and a sprained wrist.
Murphy said Talbert displayed “exceptional courage and ingenuity” in saving the woman and her beloved pet.
“To have the guts to willingly fight the flames not once, but twice, takes the heart of a true hero,” he said.
Assemblyman Kevin Byrne (R-Mahopac) was also on hand to praise Talbert for his actions.
“I know it’s overused in politics, but the word ‘hero’ applies here,” Byrne said.