“Lucky for him,” said one commenter on lifetime Sleepy Hollow resident George Checchi's Facebook page where he shared a photo of the car that burst into flames moments after helping police rescue the man trapped inside.
“I helped a Tarrytown Police officer extricate the driver before he burned to death,” Checchi wrote. “It was getting real hot, and we were running out of time, but luckily we dragged him out before a real tragedy occurred.”
Checchi, who often goes by "Papa George," happened to live nearby last Saturday morning’s horrible crash at the base of Patriots Park. The driver was charged with DWI and had left a trail of numerous damages, but amazingly, no injuries in this wake, not even apparently his own.
See more images and read all about the accident here.
“The driver was dazed from the crash, but no apparent injuries except a few singed hairs,” Checchi said.
The rescued driver, also a Sleepy Hollow resident, was taken to Westchester County Medical Center by ambulance but basically only because of the state of his alleged drunkenness.
Checchi heard the noise and arrived to find the man trapped in the car that had ultimately crashed against a utility pole after hitting cars, meters and poles from South to North Washington streets. The engine was smoking and time was of the essence as he and Tarrytown Officer Brian Macam struggled to open the man’s door and get him out.
Checchi has worked as a surgical technician in the operating room at Phelps Memorial Hospital for 21 years, and has lifted his share of post-ops onto stretchers. Now he was trying to get the man out of the car seconds before it burst into flames.
Never before had he had to save a life like this. "I have never had to do what I did that night," Checchi told Patch. "I never thought about it, I just wasn't going to watch that man burn to death before my eyes. Just doing my job, this time outside the O.R."
“We had a hell of a frantic time to get the door open, then to drag him out was another task,” he said on Facebook.
There happens to be movement underfoot to make today, Sept. 27 National First Responders Appreciation Day. Tarrytown firefighter Mike Coffey shared this on Facebook this morning:
Although it is not officially recognized nationally yet FIRST RESPONDER APPRECIATION DAY has been adopted or is in the process of being recognized by several states as Sept. 27th. Join us in thanking those that continually run into danger instead of away from it.
This of course includes firefighters, EMS, police officers, and the extraordinary and everyday civilians like Papa George.
“You’re a superhero,” a friend wrote.