Police Pull Unconscious Driver From Burning Vehicle

(Photo courtesy Lakewood Police Department)
(Photo courtesy Lakewood Police Department)

LAKEWOOD – An unconscious driver was pulled from a burning vehicle with a head injury, and police are still seeking information about the crash.

  The incident happened on Friday, July 12, just before 11 p.m. While on patrol, Officer Caitlyn Kicki saw smoke coming from the Larson Ford parking lot on Ocean Avenue (Route 88). When she pulled into the lot, she was met by a witness who reported seeing a vehicle speed into the lot and crash into multiple parked vehicles.

  The injured driver was still in the vehicle, which was on fire, but not fully engulfed yet, police said. The officer called the Lakewood Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services.

  The driver, Oscar Martinez Tapa, 29, of Lakewood, was unconscious and had a “significant” head injury, police said. Kicki could not open the door of his vehicle due to the damage from the crash. She tried to pull him through the window, but could not get a good grip through the wreckage.

  Back up Officers Michael Grant and Daniel Spagnuolo arrived as the vehicle became fully engulfed in flames, police said. Together, the three officers were able to pull the driver through the driver’s side window.

  More officers responded to the scene. Officers Kevin Seunath and John Ganley noticed that a light pole had been struck during the crash and that flames from the car were reaching high enough to touch the power lines that were running above the driver and officers on scene. They moved the driver further away from the vehicle and away from the power lines, police said.

  The driver was airlifted to Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune. Despite the severity of the injury, it was determined that his injuries were not life threatening.

  The cause of the accident is still under investigation. Anyone with information is urged to contact Officer Richard Stanick of the Lakewood Police Department Traffic Safety Unit at 732-363-0200.