Prison officer, physician assistant rescue driver from Turnpike fire
LINDEN — A crash that led to a tractor trailer fire on the New Jersey Turnpike Monday afternoon left one driver badly burned, but alive thanks to a rescue by at least two passing motorists.
The Linden Fire Department shared video of the fire on its Facebook page, noting one patient suffered "significant burns" and was airlifted by State Police NorthStar Medevac Helicopter to Robert Wood Johnson trauma center.
According to State Police, 37-year-old Seth Winick, of Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania, was the driver taken for treatment of serious injuries following the incident reported after 1 p.m.
State Police said a Volvo tractor trailer was in the leftmost lane of the southbound, outer roadway and a Honda CVR was in the "left center" lane, when the crash happened, sending the truck onto the highway's shoulder where it struck the concrete divider and caught fire.
According to Linden Fire Chief William Hasko, the truck driver was transferred to Saint Barnabas Burn unit shortly after his initial medical treatment Monday afternoon.
Winick was said to be in "very critical condition," with burns over 70% of his body, including his chest and face.
The Daily Voice reported by the Daily Voice, an off-duty corrections officer stopped along the highway to help drag Winick from his vehicle, as it was engulfed in flames. A physician's assistant from Pennsylvania also stopped to help put out flames on Winick's clothing, according to the same report.
The Daily Voice identified the NJDOC officer as Daniel O'Beirne and the emergency physician's assistant as Jordan Reed.
NJ PBA Local 105 President William Sullivan responded to an email from New Jersey 101.5 Tuesday, calling O’Beirne a “true hero” who went above and beyond the call of duty.
"Without thinking twice, O'Beirne pulled the driver off of his truck, took the shirt off of his own back and began patting him down to put out the flames. But the fire burned through O'Beirne's shirt, and so he took his pants off, and used those,” Sullivan said.
O’Beirne had been on his way to work at the adult diagnostic treatment center in Avenel, where he arrived “a little late but he was excused after he notified them of what occurred,” Sullivan said.
There were no other details on how the crash unfolded as of Tuesday, as the incident remained under investigation.
The driver of the CVR did not report any injuries, State Police said.
Firefighters from Rahway and Roselle joined those from Linden in responding to the fire.