truck explosion

Troopers Pull Man From Burning Truck Moments Before Blast

Body cam video shows two state troopers pulling a man out of a burning truck moments before it explodes on a New Jersey highway

NBCUniversal, Inc.

What to Know

  • New Jersey State Trooper Robert Tarleton and New Jersey State Police Lieutenant Edward Ryer rescued a man from a burning truck moments before it exploded on I-287 north in Bridgewater Township, New Jersey.
  • The dramatic rescue was captured on body cam video.
  • The driver suffered minor injuries.

A routine traffic stop quickly turned to a race against time for a state trooper who helped pull a man out of a burning truck moments before it exploded on a New Jersey highway.

New Jersey State Trooper Robert Tarleton was writing a ticket during a traffic stop on I-287 north in Bridgewater Township on Monday around 3:30 p.m. when a tractor trailer nearby ran off the side of the road in the express lanes.

The truck struck a guardrail and bridge abutment before catching fire. Trooper Tarleton immediately jumped into action, requested fire and emergency responders and then drove toward the burning vehicle.

U.S. & World

Stories that affect your life across the U.S. and around the world.

US Tops 90K New COVID-19 Cases for First Time

Biden Returns to Iowa; Trump Plays Defense in Mich., Wis.

"Priority number one was just going to be getting that driver out," Tarleton told NBC10.

Dramatic video obtained by NBC10 shows two state troopers pulling a man out of a burning truck moments before it explodes on a New Jersey highway.

Body cam footage shows Tarleton sprinting toward the truck which was fully engulfed in flames. At the same time, New Jersey State Police Lieutenant Edward Ryer, who had witnessed the crash while on his way home from work, was already trying to rescue 63-year-old Ron Hickman from the cab.

"I didn't see him at first because there was smoke in the cab and I was calling out to make sure that he was in there," Lt. Ryer said. "The heat was pretty intense."

Both troopers then worked together to pull Hickman out. Video shows them dragging Hickman to safety just as the truck explodes in the background.

Hickman, who has a wife, two daughters and five grandchildren, suffered minor injuries and was taken to Morristown Medical Center for an evaluation. Hickman's family said he had a medical emergency moments before the crash. They thanked Tarleton and Ryer for saving his life.

"Thank you for being the heroes you are," they wrote in a statement. "Our family still has a husband, a father and papa because of you."

Tarleton, who is only nine months out of the academy, remained humble after his heroic efforts.

"This is, although an abnormal circumstance, it's our job," he said.

Ryer, meanwhile, is glad they were both there at the right moment.

"I thank God for putting me there at that time to help Mr. Hickman and I thank God for the strength to do what I did," Lt. Ryer said. "What we did."

Officials continue to investigate the cause of the crash.

Contact Us