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'All We Heard Was Screaming': Off-Duty Officers, EMT Rescue 3 Victims From Turnpike Crash

Wood-Ridge firefighter Dan O'Beirne, Rutherford volunteer EMT Walter Rogers, Wood-Ridge Police Officer Mark Torsiello and NJ corrections officer Chris Aurajo (not pictured) rescued three women trapped in a vehicles on the NJ Turnpike.
Wood-Ridge firefighter Dan O'Beirne, Rutherford volunteer EMT Walter Rogers, Wood-Ridge Police Officer Mark Torsiello and NJ corrections officer Chris Aurajo (not pictured) rescued three women trapped in a vehicles on the NJ Turnpike. Photo Credit: Special to Daily Voice

An off-duty police officer, two corrections officers and an EMT rescued three victims trapped inside of an SUV that overturned on the NJ Turnpike Sunday afternoon in Newark.

NJ Corrections Officer and Wood-Ridge firefighter Dan O'Beirne was riding his motorcycle on the northbound side of the highway when he noticed the crash near Newark Airport around 3:30 p.m.

Driving in his personal vehicle behind him was Wood-Ridge Officer Mark Torsiello, who had Rutherford volunteer EMT Walter Rogers with him. Behind them was NJ Corrections Officer Chris Araujo.

"We saw Danny suddenly switch from the fast lane to the slow lane, and his helmet went flying," Rogers told Daily Voice. "We didn't know what was going on."

But then they saw the SUV in the embankment.

O'Beirne, Torsiello and Aurajo all pulled over before jumping out of their vehicles and bolted toward the crash scene.

"All we could hear was screaming," said Torsiello, "but no one was getting out."

There, they found three women trapped in the backseat of the vehicle -- airbags fully deployed. At least one other victim had already self-extricated, Torsiello said.

The SUV appeared to have hit a tree before tumbling down into the embankment, said Torsiello.

O'Beirne -- who last October rescued a tractor trailer driver from his burning vehicle -- called 9-1-1 before he and the other first responders lifted the first victim out of the SUV.

One woman was bleeding, another couldn't move her leg. 

Rogers used a first aid kit that someone happened to have on scene to clean and wrap the cuts on one woman's leg.

NJ Transit police and New Jersey State Police vehicles both arrived on scene minutes later, Rogers said.

Four people were transported to the hospital with non life-threatening injuries, NJSP Trooper Charles Marchan said.

Running to the scene was instinctual for Torsiello.

"I did exactly what I signed up to do every day," he said. "Help others in need."

O'Beirne felt similarly.

"Helping others has always been second-nature to me," he said. "I love having the tools to do it."

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