A New Jersey high school student is being recognized as a hero after he saved the life of a missing elderly woman who was trapped inside an abandoned home.
Police say Antonia Vocino, 84, went missing Tuesday night after she walked away from her home on Thoreau Terrace in Galloway Township around 8:30 p.m. Vocino, who suffers from dementia, became disoriented while she was walking her dog and ended up inside an abandoned townhouse across the street.
Police say she went through an open door but ended up locked inside a room upstairs in the vacant home. Vocino was trapped inside for several hours and likely would have been there even longer if not for Leo Capone, an 18-year-old senior at Absegami High School.
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Capone and his friend were walking through a housing complex where they normally park for school around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday when they spotted Vocino.
“There was just an old lady peeking out the window yelling for help,” Capone said.
Capone told NBC10 he recognized Vocino from a police Facebook notice that was posted when she was first reported missing. He and his friend quickly took action.
“We ended up breaking the door down and getting her out and I went downstairs and called 911,” Capone said.
Police arrived at the scene and Vocino was evaluated by medical personnel. Both she and her dog are doing okay.
“I literally can’t thank them enough,” said Vocino’s son Michael Raeburn. “It would be very simple for them to ignore an old lady looking out a window.”
Capone says he normally doesn’t walk in the area where he found Vocino but instead parks his car in a different part of the complex. That area happened to be blocked off by police who were searching for Vocino Wednesday morning however.
“If it wasn’t for that I probably wouldn’t have even seen her,” he said.
Galloway Township Police Chief Donna Higbee told NBC10 she plans on honoring Capone and his friend at an upcoming council meeting.
“[I’m] very proud of them,” Chief Higbee said. “We always look to the community to help and aid us in finding people.”
Capone says he only did what felt natural to him.
“I was just doing my normal reaction,” he said. “Trying to help somebody out.”