EDISON, N.J. (WPIX) — A man in Edison, New Jersey, is lucky to be alive thanks to a pair of heroes — one in uniform and the other in a suit.
“I saw a tower of smoke,” said Woodbridge Township Councilman Kyle Anderson.
Anderson was driving when he saw a house on fire. He pulled over, and a woman calling 911 told him a man was still inside toward the back.
“I could see there was a door open, and there was a gentleman who was struggling, so I went in, helped him out, but he couldn’t move any further and propped him in a seat on the deck,” Anderson said.
At that moment, Edison police officer Joseph Elqumos arrived on the scene.
“When I got out, I saw the fire,” said Elqumos. “The house was completely engulfed.”
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The smoke was so thick it was nearly impossible for him to see. In the officer’s body camera video, you can hear Anderson telling him where the man was. Then Elqumos went in and put the man on his back.
“I didn’t even talk to him or anything like that,” said Elqumos. “I picked him up, put him on my shoulders, and I ran out to safety. We went to the front of the house.”
Elqumos, who suffered smoke in his lungs and eyes during the rescue, added: “When I picked him up, I actually saw he was all charcoaled-up and stuff like that from the heavy smoke.”
Police said the man was OK. The fire is still under investigation, but it’s not believed to be suspicious.
“The officer was the true hero,” said Anderson. “He was the one who threw him across his back because the man really could not move at all.”
Elqumos was taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation, but he’s back on patrol, ready for the next call.
“When I brought him out, I was happy to see he was awake and alive,” said Elqumos. “I believed I had the ability to go in. I saw an opportunity, and I knew that if I waited any longer, that opportunity, that window, I should say, was closing by the second.”
Edison Police told WPIX in a statement, “Chief Bryan is very proud of Officer Joseph Elqumos for saving the life of one of our residents without regard to his personal safety. Officer Elqumos epitomizes the incredible positive example of an Edison Police Officer.”