‘Right place at the right time.’ Off-duty firefighter saves woman from fiery crash in Brookfield
Firefighters are a different breed. They run toward flames while most people run away. So, it’s no surprise Nick Perri Jr., a 10-year veteran of the White Plains Fire Department, saved a woman from a fiery crash in Brookfield over the weekend. Except Perri was off the job at the time.
“Ask any other fireman. They would’ve done the same thing. It’s in our blood. It’s what we do,” he told News 12.
Perri lives in Brookfield and was on his way home on Route 7 after 3 a.m. Saturday when he saw a car pulled over with its hazards on hear Junction Road. He said a woman frantically waved him down and told him a car had gone off the road and crashed and the driver was trapped inside.
“I looked to my right, and I saw a car off the ravine into the woods. It had caught fire,” Perri recalled. “Training, instinct kicked in. I just pulled over. I ran down there.”
Perri had no gear and no hose but didn't think twice about risking his own life. He said the driver was slumped over the passenger seat so he broke the windows with a log and climbed through.
“I freed up one of her legs and kind of turned her horizontal towards the window to get her further away from the fire because at this point, the fire had already taken over the driver’s side of the vehicle,” Perri explained, adding the woman’s other leg was pinned in and giving him a hard time. “My jacket ended up catching fire, so I said, ‘One more shot.’ And I was able to get her sneaker off which gave me a little more room. I freed her leg, and I grabbed her from under her arms and we just went one shot right out the passenger window.”
He said the woman was in and out of during the rescue but seemed to come to when he said they were running out of time.
“It was pretty dramatic, but the outcome was good, and she’s alive. I was just at the right place at the right time,” Perri told News 12.
What's even more remarkable is Perri usually doesn't drive that way home; he takes the back roads. But for some reason that day, he turned onto Route 7 found himself on the same path as someone who needed his help.
“It’s a little bone chilling,” he admitted.
Brookfield Fire Chief Andrew Ellis was the first on-duty firefighter to arrive on scene.
“Nick had already pulled her from the vehicle, and the vehicle was fully involved as was the area around it. The gas tank had let loose,” Ellis recalled. “If Nick was not there, and they were relying on the Brookfield Fire Department—the first person to be there---she would not have made it. The man upstairs was looking out for her for sure.”
Ellis told News 12 he spoke with the victim’s family, who are very grateful. The 21-year-old woman remains in the ICU with injuries to one of her arms and legs, along with a third-degree burn.
“She’s got a long ahead of her, but the doctors are confident she’s going to be OK,” Ellis said.
It’s all thanks to Perri, who scoffed at being called a hero. “No, I’m not a hero. It’s what I do for a living, and if asked to do it again, I would do it all over again.”
Ellis called Perri’s actions impressive and told News 12 he’s recruiting Perri to join the Brookfield Fire Department, which is volunteer, in his spare time.
The hope is for the victim and her family to meet Perri and all the first responder who saved her sometime in the future.