Good Samaritans Rescue Camden Man From Burning House - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Good Samaritans Rescue Camden Man From Burning House

Posted: Updated:
CAMDEN, N.J. -

In some of our region's toughest neighborhoods, folks sometimes view police as the enemy. However, on one North Camden block, a pair of men in blue new to the county police force just helped save a life.

All it took was being in the right place, at the right time and the courage to run toward danger.

A new cell phone video shows smoke coming from a second floor bedroom on the 800 block of North 8th street late Saturday afternoon.

Inside the homeowner, Wilfredo Ortiz had collapsed and death seemed certain.

His friend and neighbor, Emilio Ortega, heard the commotion and came running.

Ortega says he helped kick in the front door and raced through the gathering smoke up the stairs, where Ortiz had collapsed.

Ortiz, believed to be in his early 50s, is a big man. Too big for Ortega to drag by himself.

That's when Camden County Police Officers Jovan Plaza and Frank Laspata, who are new on the force, arrived. They just came on duty that day and smelled smoke. The two raced to the open front door.

"Smoke was just coming out of it. Me and Laspata hopped out and we went in," said Jovan said.

On the landing to the main stairway, a neighbor was struggling to get Ortiz out of the burning home. The police hurried to assist.

"There was a lot of smoke. I was just coughing. Seeing the man laying there not moving, my first thought was to just get him out as fast as we can and get him help," Laspata said.

A surveillance camera shows what happened next. With police grabbing Ortiz by the arms and neighbors grabbing his feet, they succeeded in helping Ortega drag Ortiz out of the burning house to safety.

Ortiz was rushed to the hospital. The officers and neighbors were unhurt.

"Team effort. Team effort. We all did it together...and we got the guy out," Laspata said.

Plaza, 20, grew up in Camden. His father is a cop. Life-saving moments like Saturday are why he goes to work each day.

"Basically, my whole reason for being a police officer is to help others. That's what I've always wanted to do and I feel blessed to be able to be in this position," Plaza said.

  • Local NewsMore>>

  • Dick's Sporting Goods lays off 478 PGA golf pros

    Dick's Sporting Goods lays off 478 PGA golf pros

    The western Pennsylvania-based Dick's Sporting Goods chain has laid off 478 Professional Golfers' Association teaching pros months after the company reported that sales of golf gear are dwindling.
    The western Pennsylvania-based Dick's Sporting Goods chain has laid off 478 Professional Golfers' Association teaching pros months after the company reported that sales of golf gear are dwindling.
  • EU regulator: Morning-after pill OK for all women

    EU regulator: Morning-after pill OK for all women

    Thursday, July 24 2014 8:51 AM EDT2014-07-24 12:51:47 GMT
    The European Medicines Agency says a commonly used morning-after pill is suitable for use by heavier women after reviewing the evidence, sparked by a French pharmaceutical company's declaration last year that the drugs didn't work in women weighing more than 80 kilograms (176 pounds).
    The European Medicines Agency says a commonly used morning-after pill is suitable for use by heavier women after reviewing the evidence, sparked by a French pharmaceutical company's declaration last year that the drugs didn't work in women weighing more than 80 kilograms (176 pounds).
  • US unemployment aid applications drop to 284,000

    US unemployment aid applications drop to 284,000

    Thursday, July 24 2014 8:49 AM EDT2014-07-24 12:49:57 GMT
    The Labor Department says weekly applications for unemployment aid dropped 19,000 to a seasonally adjusted 284,000.
    The Labor Department says weekly applications for unemployment aid dropped 19,000 to a seasonally adjusted 284,000.
Powered by WorldNow

WTTG FOX 5 & myfoxdc
5151 Wisconsin Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20016
Main Number: (202) 244-5151
Newsroom: (202) 895-3000
fox5tips@wttg.com

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices