2 Hero EMTs in Running for ward

BAYONNE, N.J. — Bayonne emergency medical technicians Tom Kelly and Joe Burlew were on their way to lunch at 12:19 p.m. last Oct. 15 when the dispatcher at McCabe Ambulance Services radioed them that a car had just gone into Newark Bay behind Veterans Stadium.

It was the beginning of an adventure that led to them being nominated for “America’s Most Wanted” All-Stars.

The pair – who’d only worked together once before – sped to the scene.

“It’s not every day you get a call like that,” said Kelly, 24, who also serves as a city firefighter.

About 50 feet from the shoreline they spotted the car. “You could see the trunk sticking out – it was vertical in the water – and the car was about three-quarters submerged,” Burlew, 21, recalled.

After witnesses told them a person was inside, Kelly and Burlew jumped in and began swimming to the car, which was rapidly filling up with water.

“I saw a woman’s hand pressed against the windshield, but she looked to be unconscious,” Burlew said.

Both men dove below to try and open a door or window, but, as Burlew determined, “there was still an air pocket at the top of the car so you couldn’t open the doors.”

Then, as other emergency personnel began arriving, Firefighter Michael Daly grabbed a Halogen tool – a 25-pound pry bar – and swam out to the pair, handing off the tool to Kelly.

“I smashed the back windshield and knocked the rest of the glass shards out and, by now, the car was almost full of water,” Kelly said.

Burlew pushed himself through the opening, grabbed the woman’s jacket and, together, they pulled her out.

At the same time, Police Officer Joe Heaney swam out to help and, together, the rescuers carried the woman over the rocks to shore, where EMTs wrapped her in blankets and gave her oxygen, reviving her.

The woman, later identified as Bayonne school secretary Judith Matusaitis, was rushed to Bayonne Medical Center for treatment of hypothermia and exposure to water. She was released two days later.

Matusaitis, now fully recovered, said she was en route to lunch with her daughter when her car malfunctioned and began speeding up. She said she put both feet on the brake – to no avail – as the car crashed through a double barricade and arced into the bay.

If Kelly and Burlew win, they’ll split the $10,000 prize.

Another Hudson County nominee is Jersey City Police Officer Cora Kerton, who helped an elderly woman deal with multiple burglaries.

No posts to display