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Police Officer Hailed As Hero For Saving Woman, Dog From Burning Car In Northern Westchester

Senator Terrance Murphy presents NYPD Officer James Talbert with the New York State Liberty Medal.
Senator Terrance Murphy presents NYPD Officer James Talbert with the New York State Liberty Medal. Photo Credit: Senator Terrance Murphy

James Talbert didn't think twice about running to save a woman and her dog from a burning car on the Taconic Parkway.

That's because the Mahopac resident and NYPD officer has spent years helping, and saving, others.

But Senator Terrance Murphy (R-40th District) didn't take his heroic actions for granted and recognized him with the coveted New York State Liberty Medal at Yorktown Town Hall.

The incident took place in July, while Talbert was driving to his home in Mahopac from a friend's house and saw a vehicle overturned and on fire on the Taconic Parkway in Yorktown. 

Punching out the sunroof, he pulled a 59-year-old woman to safety. At the woman's request, he ran back to free her Yorkshire Terrier.

Talbert credits his instincts with inspiring him to act. But everyone else, particularly his proud family, was awed by his quick-thinking, selfless lifesaving act.

"I want to thank my fellow officers and family for their support," said Talbert. "I'm sure anyone who found themselves in the same position would do what I did. My training kicked in when I saw the overturned car. When I pulled the woman out, she was semi-conscious and startled but was all right. She was yelling for 'her baby,' so I didn't hesitate to go back in and get her dog."

Among the guests attending the ceremony were Talbert's fellow NYPD members including Sgt. Sergio De La Mota and Police Officers Ryan Sheehan, Amir Cepeda, Michael Derosa, and Kevin Navarro. Family members and friends on hand included his parents, Tim and Robin, his brother, Jake, grandparents, Ginger and Bill, his uncle, Matt, his girlfriend Brittney Bennett, and his friend, Kim Bennett.

"Presenting this award to Officer Talbert is one of those moments in politics that is a pleasure," said Murphy. "He has one of the toughest jobs there is. He disregarded his own safety to help someone else. Even when he was off duty, he was still doing his job. What Officer Talbert did was literally save someone's life."

The New York State Liberty Medal is given to individuals who have merited special commendation for exceptional, heroic, or humanitarian acts and achievements on behalf of their fellow New Yorkers.

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