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White Plains firefighters work at the scene of an accident and fire in the Mobil station on the Hutchinson River Parkway in White Plains June 3, 2014. / Frank Becerra Jr./The Journal News

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- John Vescio's training and experience took over.

Vescio, a senior state police investigator, had been pumping gasoline into his unmarked police car at 11 a.m. June 3 at the gas station along the Hutchinson River Parkway in White Plains when a Toyota came barreling out of control into the parking lot, hit a car and then a gas pump, and set off a ball of fire.

"It happened so quick," Vescio told The Journal News on Tuesday in his first public comments since the incident. "It was hard to think. I pretty much just reacted."

The 69-year-old driver had a medical issue and was trapped inside the car.

Vescio had been hurt in the chain-reaction crash when the pump fell on top of him. He scrambled away just as the front of the Toyota and the pump caught fire. After briefly escaping from the flames, he returned to drag the trapped driver to safety with help from another bystander.

Vescio then told people to move away, knowing that there was ammunition and a weapon in his heavily damaged unmarked car. His ammunition was all accounted for and didn't explode from the flames.

Tuesday was Vescio's first day back on the job after being injured in the crash. He said he planned on visiting the driver he saved later in the day. The man, who apparently was suffering from a diabetic episode, remained at Westchester Medical Center in stable condition.

Four other customers were injured in the incident.

Vescio's supervisors have heaped praise on his actions.

"Senior Investigator Vescio's response likely resulted in saving the gentleman's life," State Police Capt. Dominick Chiumento said. "If not for his swift response, the situation could have turned much worse."

But Vescio, who is stationed in New York City, kidded when asked if he's being treated like a hero by his colleagues: "They treat me like always ?? no respect."

Vescio said he has seen video of the crash and the fiery explosion.

"The way I look at it I was doing the right thing," he said.



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: Officer saves driver in fiery gas station crash

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