Two men are recovering but alive thanks to the heroic actions of two rookie Camden County Police officers.
On March 15, around 4:30 p.m., Officer Jovan Plaza was flagged down and alerted to a house fire on N. 8th Street in North Camden.
Officer Plaza drove to the home where he spotted thick smoke and heard the sound of a man inside screaming for help. Fellow Camden County Officer Frank Laspata arrived at the scene shortly after.
The two officers ran into the home where they found Wilfredo Ortiz, an elderly man who was badly burned, lying down on the steps. Another man, Emilio Ortega, was also inside, attempting to pull him out.
The two officers carried Ortiz out of the home and also led Ortega to safety. Surveillance video captured the dramatic rescue.
Both Ortiz and Ortega were taken to Cooper University Hospital. Ortiz was treated for burns covering nearly two thirds of his body while Ortega was treated for smoke inhalation. Ortiz is currently in critical but stable condition.
Officer Plaza and Officer Laspata, who just graduated from the Camden County Police Academy in December, were both recognized as the Camden County Police Department’s officers of the week.
“Officer Plaza’s and Officer Laspata’s immediate actions of bravery and their assessment of the situation showed their commitment to the citizens of Camden,” said Lieutenant Benito Gonzalez. “They saved two men from a fire that could have killed them.”