Manorville man pulled from burning SUV after crash

Tim Fleischer reporting
April 1, 2014 2:41:08 PM PDT
A driver on Long Island is lucky to be alive after his SUV erupted in flames on a Suffolk County road early Tuesday.

Police received a 911 call around 12:30 a.m. reporting a 2013 Ford Explorer that had crashed into a tree on Florence Drive in Manorville.

CLICK HERE to see images from the scene.

Officer Dennis O'Connor responded to the scene and, with the help of a pair of Good Samaritans, broke the driver's side window and pull the man to safety.

T.J. Zelezny, 26, was about to pull into his driveway when he saw the car and called police.

"I was just glad the guy was alive, and we got him out," he said. "As I was on the phone with 911, I saw it start to [catch] fire. Another gentleman stopped, and he was banging on the car with me."

That's when O'Connor arrived, and all three frantically worked against the clock as the flames grew bigger.

"They were having trouble getting the guy out, so I grabbed a shovel and smashed open the back window, and we were able to get the guy out through the back," Zelezny said. "It was just instinct, I guess. I mean, I would want someone else to help me out if I was in there. So it was my good deed for the day."

The driver, 34-year-old Brad Claus, was rushed to Peconic Medical Center with non life-threatening injuries. He was treated and released.

The Manorville Fire Department arrived to put out the flames, which fully engulfed the vehicle and sent flames and smoke high into the night sky.

The charred remains of the SUV were removed from the scene.

The cause of the accident is under investigation.