Cherry Hill firefighter risks his life to save trapped driver | Heroes on the Frontline

Christie Ileto Image
Tuesday, June 18, 2024
Cherry Hill firefighter risks his life to save trapped driver
Cherry Hill firefighter Jake Borrelli made the quick decision to race and try to free a trapped driver who had just crashed into a building

CHERRY HILL, New Jersey (WPVI) -- A gaping hole was seen in the building at Lakeview Dental Care in Cherry Hill, New Jersey following a crash that trapped a wrong way driver in his truck inside the building.

At the time, Cherry Hill firefighter Jake Borelli had only been on the job for about three months.

"We started trying to extricate the guy in the driver's seat," he said.

But this wasn't your typical car accident.

"No," he said. "The dash of the truck was crushing his legs and the building's weight was on top, so it was giving a bit of difficulty at first."

Last September, Cherry Hill Fire Ladder 24-B Platoon was on their way to training when they witnessed the box truck plow into the building.

The first responders worked to evacuate the dental office and continued trying to extricate the driver, when black smoke began billowing from the engine and from inside the building.

Within the seconds, the truck's cabin was engulfed in smoke.

Borelli leapt into action, without wearing any protective gear.

"It was difficult to breathe," he said. "To be honest, I think the adrenaline. There were a lot of guys who were dealing with the smoke, and we all just wanted to get the guy out, so it wasn't really a thought for any of the firefighters to leave and go grab a mask."

With no protective gear and just pure adrenaline and grit, Borrelli and some members of his company made the conscious decision in the heat of the moment to continue working to free the driver.

The conditions were only made manageable when another first responder grabbed pressurized water cans to help ease the smoke until an engine company arrived.

The fire was quickly put under control and the driver was freed from the box truck in under 20 minutes with no serious injuries.

Inside the dental office, only the office manager suffered minor injuries.

In October 2023, Borrelli, alongside members of his ladder company, received an award for going above and beyond the call of duty.

But the freshman fire fighter will tell you it was a team effort.

"A lot of fire fighters do a great job at every fire we go to, it's expected of the fire fighters to operate that way," he said.

If you know of a first responder who went above and beyond the call of duty, we want to share their story.