GLOUCESTER TWP., N.J. (WPVI) -- Two New Jersey State Police Troopers pulled a man from a burning car, saving his life Sunday.
The driver, Anthony Branca, had just left work in South Philadelphia and was headed to his home in Hammonton when he suddenly veered off the road.
Troopers Christopher Warwick and Thomas O'Connor were trying to rescue an unconscious Branca from the driver seat, as flames fanned from the hood of the car.
Believed to have fallen asleep at the wheel, the officers had a matter of minutes to get him out of his burning car.
"We were pulling up to it as a car in the median, we had no idea that it was in the crash for sure," said
A witness told police the 53-year-old veered off the southbound lanes of Route 42 in Gloucester Township.
The pair repeatedly tried to alert Branca that he was in danger.
"We attempted to open the driver door and you can only open it 6 inches at best; it hit the guardrail and there's no moving the vehicle," said Warwick.
Attempting to move the car would have accelerated the fire, so the troopers tried to pull Branca out through a rear door. When that didn't work, they knew the driver's side window was the only way out.
"When we started tugging, we gave him some pretty hard tugs, he wasn't moving at all right away," said O'Connor. "You are cognizant the fire is there, but I don't think in that moment you truly realize how intense and how close it actually is."
Both troopers said if they had been alone, rescuing Branca would have proved to have been more challenging.
As for the victim, attempts to reach him went unanswered Thursday night.
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New Jersey State Troopers rescue unconscious man from burning car
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