Police tried in vain to rescue a Little Ferry driver who was killed when his SUV went up in flames as he tried to drive out of a snowbank Wednesday morning.
Responding to a call from a borough DPW worker, Little Ferry Police Officer Joseph Convery found a Mazda CX-5 that jumped a parking divider and got stuck in the snow near the soccer field off Mehrhof Road shortly after 9 a.m., Police Chief James Walters said.
The 62-year-old borough driver was flooring the accelerator when Convery – who’s also a borough firefighter -- started banging on the window trying to get him to stop, Walters said.
Officer Joseph Montemuro soon joined Convery. The officers called a tow truck and continued trying to get the driver's attention.
He “totally ignored them," however, "didn’t even acknowledge them, as they yelled at him, banged on the window and tried to get into the car,” Walters said. “He wouldn’t let off the gas.”
The officers then saw flames below the vehicle.
Convery tried desperately to break the window as Montemuro ran for a fire extinguisher, Walters said.
But the SUV “ignited and was engulfed within seconds,” the chief said.
Borough firefighters doused the flames. The driver was burned beyond recognition.
"Imagine having to see that," Walters said. "It was horrible."
The Bergen County Prosecutor’s Arson Investigations Unit was among the responders along with the Bergen County Sheriff’s Bureau of Criminal Identification, which collected evidence.
The Bergen County Medical Examiner's Office also responded.
“It’s odd why it caught fire the way it did,” Walters said. “We don’t know right now whether it’s suspicious or not. But it happened so fast. That’s strange.”
Although authorities needed to officially confirm his identity through dental records, police made in-person notifications to the man’s family.
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