An Elmont firefighter who helped rescue a Medford woman from a fiery Long Island Expressway crash earlier this month was honored Sunday for the heroic act.
State Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) awarded Jeffrey Dupoux, 31, with the State Senate Liberty Medal for pulling the woman out of her burning vehicle after the Feb. 1 crash.
“He was literally the right man at the right place at the right time,” Kaminsky said during the noon ceremony at the Elmont Fire Department headquarters. He then placed the gold-plated medallion around Dupoux’s neck.
About 65 volunteer firefighters, family and friends were in attendance, but despite pleas from those in the audience, Dupoux didn’t speak during the ceremony.
In an interview afterward, he said he was just doing what was expected of him.
“It’s surreal,” Dupoux said of the recognition. “I have no words to describe it. I’m honored. . . . I saw someone in need and I got out to help.”
Melissa Ortiz, 23, was heading east at about 10:50 a.m. on the LIE in Ronkonkoma when her Ford Expedition collided with a National Grid truck. The impact caused the SUV to overturn and burst into flames in the HOV lane, police said at the time.
Ortiz was trapped, but Dupoux and Highway Patrol Officer Thomas Mutarelli were nearby.
They pulled over and teamed up to free Ortiz, pulling her to safety through a broken window with help from at least one other Good Samaritan.
“I’m very proud of him. He has a good heart and always tries to help people,” said Dupoux’s girlfriend, Elisa Araujo, 28, of Queens.
Others said the hero always had it in him.
“All the training we do pays off,” said Elmont Assistant Fire Chief Ron Conti. “He saved a life. It’s what we do.”