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NJ State troopers’ bravery praised in rescue of tractor-trailer driver from Route 80 creek

Photo Credit: NJSP
Photo Credit: NJSP
Photo Credit: Courtesy Eamonn Radburn
Photo Credit: NJSP

SHOUT OUTS: The driver of a tractor-trailer that crashed over a bridge guard rail and into Overpeck Creek in Ridgefield this morning has a chance of surviving thanks to a trio of brave New Jersey State Police troopers who jumped in and pulled him out.

Troopers Mohamed Hussein of Union, Jason Serrano of Paterson and Luis Cardenas of Parsippany were first on the scene of the 5:35 a.m. crash at northbound Route 80 milepost 117, State Police said this afternoon.

They spotted the cab of the rig on fire and dangling into the water and 66-year-old Lawrence Scherf of Vails Gate, N.Y. in the creek.


Scherf, who’d been ejected, was conscious but burned over what looked like 75% of his body.

Dropping their leather belts, the three went waist-deep into the water in uniform, kept him talking, then got him out of the water.

Scherf was brought in a stokes basket up to the bridge, where the AirMed One medical helicopter from Hackensack University Medical Center had landed.

He was flown to HUMC before being transferred to the burn unit at St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston in critical condition, Trooper Jeff Flynn said.

PHOTO: Courtesy Eamonn Radburn

“The quick and decisive actions of these troopers have given Mr. Scherf a chance to be treated by doctors,” the NJSP said, adding that State Police detectives were investigating the crash and fire.

Engineers were to inspect the bridge, which also serves as a dam. High-voltage lines were damaged, as well, emergency responders reported.

“Our utmost concern right now is on the condition of our driver,” National Freight Inc. of Lebanon, Ind., said in a statement.

“We are very grateful for the efforts of the NJ State Troopers who rescued our driver from Overpeck Creek….We are grateful that nobody else seems to have been injured.”

The company also said it sent members of its safety team to investigate.

NJ State Troopers Jason Serrano, Luis Cardenas, Mohamed Hussein (Courtesy NJSP)

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