Construction workers, firefighters lauded as heroes in Parkway crash response

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Aaron Grace, left, and John Armbruster, center, receive proclamations from Mayor Richard Palombo for their rescue of the driver of a dump truck that crashed into the water near the Parkway bridge May 23. Aaron Grace, left, and John Armbruster, center, receive proclamations from Mayor Richard Palombo for their rescue of the driver of a dump truck that crashed into the water near the Parkway bridge May 23. PETERSBURG – Officials honored six men Monday for their efforts in saving the driver of a dump truck that crashed off the Garden State Parkway bridge over the Great Egg Harbor Bay.

The accident occurred around 2:30 p.m. on Friday, May 23, the start of the Memorial Day weekend. It brought a dozen emergency response agencies to the bridge.

 The dump truck went over the rails of the bridge backwards and fell 40 feet into the water below. The driver, Theodore Parillo, 50, was unconscious and trapped in the cab of the truck, which quickly filled with water.

Construction workers Jason Armbruster and Aaron Grace were on a dock just a few feet away when the accident happened. They jumped into the water and cracked the truck’s windshield open with a hammer.

The men held the driver’s head above water while firefighters freed his legs from the cab of the truck.

“Through their efforts this gentleman lived,” Mayor Richard Palombo said. “Without hesitation they went in to save (his) life.”

Marmora Volunteer Fire Co. Deputy Chief Jeffrey McIntyre, Capt. DJ Young, and firefighters Matthew Long and Mark Newman arrived on the scene shortly after the crash. Marmora Fire Chief Jay Newman said they quickly assessed the scene and got out of their turnout gear to enter the water.

The firefighters helped free the driver’s legs and he was transferred to a waiting ambulance, then airlifted to the trauma center at AtlanticCare Regional Medical Center City Campus in Atlantic City.

Newman said the driver is still recovering.

He said the emergency response that day was one of the most impressive he has ever seen. Around a dozen agencies responded to the scene, he said.

“The system worked,” Newman said. “It saved a man’s life. Years and years of planning go into that. It doesn’t just happen overnight.”

Township officials said they will also honor other responders that day, after a volunteer with the Upper Township Rescue Squad said there were many individuals that made the rescue possible.

Committeeman Ed Barr, who oversees public safety, said proper recognition of responders has always been an issue throughout his career. He was a police officer in Hamilton Township for many years.

He said the township should have a group to review incidents and determine who should receive formal recognition.

“It’s a tough thing to draw the line on who gets what,” he said.

Committeeman Hobie Young said township committee was given the names of the individuals who went into the water to save the driver’s life. He agreed that the rescue squad does get overlooked, however.

“You don’t get the recognition you deserve,” Young said.

Mayor Richard Palombo said the committee will recognize all those who deserve it.

From left, Committeemen John Coggins and Hobie Young with firefighters Mark Newman and Matthew Long, Capt. DJ Young, Mayor Richard Palombo, Deputy Chief Jeffrey McIntyre, Deputy Mayor Tony Inserra and Committeeman Ed Barr. From left, Committeemen John Coggins and Hobie Young with firefighters Mark Newman and Matthew Long, Capt. DJ Young, Mayor Richard Palombo, Deputy Chief Jeffrey McIntyre, Deputy Mayor Tony Inserra and Committeeman Ed Barr.

 


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