SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ – The quick actions of a Federal Express delivery driver saved a crash victim Thursday evening after he flipped his car on Ridge Road, causing it to catch fire, police said.
According to police, the incident took place at 8:28 p.m. Thursday evening when police received several 911 calls of a motor vehicle accident involving an overturned vehicle that was on fire on Ridge Road.
When police arrived at the scene, they found the driver of the crashed vehicle, Dean Vitale, 24, of Spotswood, injured but away from the vehicle, police said.
Investigating officers learned that Vitale was driving a 2002 Nissan Maxima eastbound on Ridge Road when he swerved to avoid another vehicle.
Police said Vitale lost control of the Nissan and went off the road, striking a large landscaping rock in front of 308 Ridge Road, and sending the car airborne.
While in the air, the rear of the vehicle flipped over the front, striking the rock and a commercial business sign, police said.
The Nissan then came to rest, overturned, on the front lawn of 306 Ridge Road and caught fire.
A passing Federal Express delivery driver, Anthony Lanza, of North Brunswick, was traveling westbound on Ridge Road at the time of the crash and witnessed the accident, police said.
He immediately headed to the overturned Nissan, and could see fire from the front of the vehicle, but was unable to see if anyone was inside from the driver’s window, police said.
Lanza then went around the passenger’s side and opened the door, where he saw Vitale bleeding.
He helped Vitale get out and away from the burning car and then returned to his truck to get a fire extinguisher and put out the fire, police said.
“It is clear Mr. Lanza’s actions prevented this crash from becoming a tragedy,” Chief of police Raymond Hayducka said. “The impact of the crash was so forceful it pushed a 1,000-pound landscaping rock 15 feet and caused the Nissan’s gas tank to rupture. Mr. Lanza got the driver away from the vehicle and stopped the fire from spreading to the ruptured gas tank. Mr. Lanza put his own safety at risk in rescuing the injured driver. The first officer was on scene of the crash in less than a minute, but seconds count and Mr. Lanza made all the difference.”
The Monmouth Junction First Aid Squad transported Vitale to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick for treatment, police said.
The Monmouth Junction Fire Department also responded to the call.
The accident remains under investigation, police said.
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