Exec and BTOs Honored For Saving Two from Fiery Crash
Executive Vice President and Chief of Operations James Fortunato and Bridge and Tunnel Officer Jimmy Moy and John Esposito were honored at a recent MTA Board meeting for their heroism in rescuing two people trapped inside a burning truck in July.
In presenting the three with plaques, MTA Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Thomas F. Prendergast said their tale was “straight out of an action movie” and “showed ingenuity, determination, and plain old guts on that day.”
It began when Fortunato, stuck in traffic while crossing the Verrazano-Narrows on July 22, heard the agency radio transmission about a crash on the upper level span just ahead of his car. A box truck had collided with a private sanitation truck and was on fire.
"I saw there were flames, and two people were pinned in the vehicle," Fortunato recalled. He grabbed a fire extinguisher from the garbage truck and set to work, but despite his efforts the fire, apparently caused by leaking fuel, kept re-igniting.
Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and Tunnel Officer Jimmy Moy, on routine patrol on the lower level, raced to the scene where Fortunato had already pulled out the windshield and was spraying fire extinguisher into the cab. Fortunato told him to find more extinguishers.
Joined by Bridge and Tunnel Officer John Esposito, also on routine patrol, the two officers rushed into stalled westbound traffic and began yelling for anyone to give them more fire extinguishers.
While Moy and Esposito continued to try and douse the fire, Fortunato came up with idea to use the garbage truck winch to get the door off the driver’s side. “It was incredible. He utilized whatever was at the scene to get this guy out,” Moy said.
Once the door was off and the driver pried out from the mangled dashboard by Moy and Esposito, Fortunato hooked the winch beneath the truck and had the garbage truck pull the still-burning truck off the bridge railing. The crushed passenger door was then pried open by NYPD Emergency units and FDNY, who extracted the severely injured passenger. Both the driver and passenger are still recovering from burns and other injuries.
“They did not rest until those passengers were safe,” Prendergast said. “That’s why, on behalf of the entire organization, I’d like to present them with these small tokens of our appreciation for their bravery, service and a job well-done.”