Off-duty officer rescues man from fiery gas station crash

Off-duty officer John Vescio pulls an unconscious driver from his car.
Published: .
Updated: .

An off-duty police officer saved his own life, then a stranger's, in a dramatic crash at a New York gas station.

John Vescio, a senior investigator with the New York State Police, was filling up his unmarked state police car at a gas station on the Hutchinson River Parkway in southern New York state.

"I was standing there at the pump and the only thing I remember hearing was a speeding car, somebody that was entering into the gas station at a higher rate of speed than normal," Vescio said.

A 69-year-old man apparently blacked out while driving into the gas station, crashing into the gas pump where Vescio had stopped.

"The next thing I know, the pump was coming down on top of me," he said.

Security video from the gas station shows Vescio flee from the scene, then moments later, returning to help the unconscious driver out of his car as the flames grew around the pumps.

But the rescue was anything but easy.

"You could see the way his legs were tucked under by the seat. His seat belt was on, he was pretty much helpless," Vescio said.

Minutes later, the gas pumps burst into flames.

Vescio's boss with the department makes it clear, what he did was very special.

"John was a civilian at the time. You see him in his Yankee jersey and shorts and he becomes a victim and then he becomes a hero," said Maj. Keith Corlett.

Despite his heroic actions, Vescio is deflecting much of the credit.

"I just feel like me," he told a New York television station.

Vescio has visited with the man he saved, who says he and his family are grateful for Vescio's quick actions.