Detective Michael Pellegrino, Officer Jeffrey Caldwell, and Officer Frederick Dow
Ewing (NJ) Police Department
Washington, DC—The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund has announced the selection of Detective Michael Pellegrino, Officer Jeffrey Caldwell and Officer Frederick Dow of the Ewing (NJ) Police Department as its Officers of the Month for June 2012.
On January 18, 2012, Officer Jeffrey Caldwell responded to a single vehicle accident in which a Honda Odyssey struck a utility pole. The live utility lines entangled the automobile, and a downed pole blocked access to the passenger side doors. The driver, an elderly man, was able to exit the vehicle and inform Officer Caldwell that his 81-year-old wife and 54-year-old handicapped son were trapped inside. Officer Caldwell called for back-up and notified the electric company and Fire Rescue units.
When Detective Michael Pellegrino and Officer Frederic Dow arrived, they quickly realized just how dire the situation truly was. The utility pole lay next to the van and power lines sparked, igniting the van’s rear quarter panel, filling the interior with smoke. Knowing every second counted, the officers opted not to wait for the utility company or Fire Rescue units to arrive and used a Halligan bar to break the driver’s side window.
The three officers risked electrocution by as many as 13,000 volts that pulsed through the power lines as they attempted to rescue the two trapped passengers. First, Officer Caldwell opened the vehicle’s door. Then, Detective Pellegrino and Officer Dow held the door open as Officer Caldwell reached in to pull the elderly woman from her seat. After carrying her a safe distance away from the vehicle, the three officers contemplated extricating the couple’s handicapped son from the vehicle.
As the power lines hummed ominously, it was impossible for the officers to know just how much time they had before the vehicle caught fire. The officers calmly instructed the handicapped son to climb into the front seat, unsure of his physical and mental capacity. Thankfully, he understood the officers’ commands, climbed into the front seat, and was pulled safely from the vehicle. Within thirty seconds of his exit, the power lines sparked violently and the van was consumed by flames. Three different fire departments were needed to bring the blaze under control.
The elderly woman was hospitalized temporarily, while her husband and son were treated for non-life threatening injuries. Officer Caldwell and Detective Pellegrino also required medical attention. All three officers visited the elderly woman in the hospital and followed-up with her husband and son. In his letter to Mayor Bert Steinmann and Police Chief Robert Coulton, the driver wrote, [referring to the three men who had saved his family from certain death], “Amazing! Where do you find people like this…?”
Collectively, Detective Pellegrino, Officer Caldwell and Officer Dow have 58-years of law enforcement service to the citizens of Ewing, NJ.
Located in the nation’s capital, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund is a non-profit organization dedicated to honoring the service and sacrifice of America’s law enforcement officers. The Memorial Fund’s Officer of the Month Program began in September 1996 and recognizes federal, state and local officers who distinguish themselves through exemplary law enforcement service and devotion to duty.
Detective Michael Pellegrino, Officer Jeffrey Caldwell and Officer Frederick Dow, along with the other Officers of the Month for 2012, will be honored at a special awards luncheon in Washington, DC in May 2013 during National Police Week. In addition, their stories of heroism and service will be featured in the Memorial Fund’s annual calendar.
The Police Unity Tour is the official sponsor of the Memorial Fund’s Officer of the Month Program.