Rochester, N.Y. – Officer Giovanni Maldonado and his partner, officer Mike DiPoala, happened to be at East Main Street and North Winton Road Friday night when a BMW drove through the intersection at a high rate of speed and crashed into a storefront.
“We just saw a white blur across going eastbound,” said Maldonado.
Next thing Maldonado and his partner heard was a bang, as the 'white blur' ran into the store, Epicurean Treasures.
“We saw the vehicle inside the store front,” said Maldonado, “literally 15-feet into the building.”
In seconds, Maldonado and Dipoala ran into the building and pulled the driver, 37-year-old Demetrius Dennis, and his passenger, 52 year-old Ashley Black, from the car.
“The car was still running so my partner tried to turn it off,” said Maldonado. “The occupant came down, he said the vehicle had hit the furnace. At that point, while my partner, Mike DiPoala, was trying to turn off the car, the car ignited.”
Heavy black smoke filled the shop, forcing the officers out of the store, and making it impossible for them to get to the couple in the apartment upstairs.
Meanwhile, the store owner, his girlfriend, and dogs were trapped inside.
“Everything was going like 100 miles per hour,” said Maldonado.
Two dogs were given to the officers in a crate while the woman went back inside for the third puppy that had to be dropped down to the officers. Firefighters got a ladder to rescue the couple from the second floor apartment.
“You got to give credit to the firemen too,” said Maldonado. “The three or four guys that showed up, they really kept the car from exploding.”
But as far as accepting credit, Maldonado said he was doing what he was trained to do.
“We just happened to be at the right place at the right time,” said Maldonado. “I don't see myself as a hero; I just reacted and did as I was trained. I probably would have done the same thing even if I wasn't in this uniform.”