LIRR managers help good Samaritan rescue driver from burning car on Long Island

Chanteé Lans Image
Tuesday, December 6, 2022
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LIRR managers Gerry Boertzel and Felix Moreau are being hailed as heroes for their help in rescuing a driver from a burning car in Melville. Chantee Lans has the story.

MELVILLE, Long Island (WABC) -- Two Long Island Rail Road employees are being hailed as heroes for putting their lives on the line to save a driver from a burning car.

Thick, heavy smoke billowed over the Long Island Expressway, jamming morning traffic for miles. Beneath it was smoldering soot from what was left of the burning vehicle.

LIRR managers Gerry Boertzel of Medford and Felix Moreau of Bohemia, were driving in Melville heading to a meeting in Queens when they encountered the vehicle.

"I was driving when we noticed the smoke," said Gerry Boertzel, Investigations Manager for Corporate Safety at LIRR.

"I think just something in your gut tells you it's the right thing to do," said Felix Moreau, Investigations Manager of Engineering at LIRR.

The car had just crashed into the Pine Lawn Road overpass and burst into flames.

"We had a fire extinguisher on board and pulled over," Moreau said. "There was no police or fire on scene yet."

Moreau said he tried to hold the fire back while Boertzel looked inside the vehicle windows to make sure there was no one inside.

"I've got five kids at home. I'm concerned that maybe there's a child in the backseat or something like that," Boertzel said.

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Moreau said that once they determined the vehicle was empty, they went back to the driver who was dragged away.

"We noticed he was laying on the ground," Moreau said.

"I went over to the driver, spoke to him, trying to make sure that was he ultimately okay, I asked him some questions," Boertzel said. "Can you tell me your name? How do you feel? Do you remember what happened to you? He was able to speak which was reassuring."

Boertzel then called his wife. Both he and Moreau, who is a volunteer firefighter, stayed with the driver until the ambulance arrived.

"Situations like this don't happen every day," Moreau said.

Even more rare is what Boertzel and Moreau first saw.

"We got there, there was an additional person, we don't know who he is, but he was actively pulling the driver, the sole occupant of the vehicle out, away from the vehicle on fire," Moreau said.

The LIRR workers say they have no idea who that good Samaritan was, but they had a message for him.

"Thank you. You did a great service. I'm glad we were all able to be there and help out," Boertzel said.

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