CALIFORNIA, Pa. - Jeremy Berish said he knew something was wrong when he heard grinding and scraping noises outside his bedroom window early Wednesday morning.
Wearing pajamas and flip-flops at 1:17 a.m., the Long Branch resident ran down Dally Road, where he discovered that a car had crashed into a utility pole and a retaining wall.
Berish dragged the driver – identified as Renee R. Geho – out of the car moments before it burst into flames.
Berish, along with California police Officer Alysia Haines and Charleroi Regional Police Officer Billy Gardner, is being credited with pulling Geho to safety.
“(Berish) got there just in the nick of time,” California police Chief Rick Encapera said. “She was definitely in danger.”
Police said Geho, 49, of Long Branch was driving on Dally Road when she lost control on a sharp bend and her vehicle hit the utility pole and retaining wall of a residence near Chestnut Street.
Berish said Geho was “conscious but not coherent,” when he arrived. He said her car went “straight through” the pole.
“I was calling 911 when I saw flames under the front end of the car,” said Berish, adding that by that time his girlfriend, Karen Burnsworth, had arrived. “We had to pick (Geho) up and drag her out of the car.
“Within a matter of seconds, the car was engulfed in flames.”
Moments later, Haines and Gardner arrived and saw Geho lying unconscious next to the car when it burst into flames.
The officers helped move the woman farther away from the burning car.
Geho was taken to Monongahela Valley Hospital in Carroll Township for treatment. Her condition was not available.
Berish said he didn't realize how “scary” the situation was until hours later.
“If I would've been there a minute later, I don't want to think what would've happened, because she definitely wasn't getting herself out,” Berish said.
Berish, who works for Hollowood Inc. of California, credits his eight years in the U.S. Army and his mother, nurse Patricia Berish, for teaching him life-saving skills.
“I think I did what anyone else would've done in that situation,” Berish said.
California police are investigating the possible involvement of alcohol in the crash.
The Roscoe Volunteer Fire Department responded to the accident.
(Stacy Wolford is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-684-2640 or at email@example.com.)