When off-duty NYPD transit Officer Christopher Canale came across a burning school minibus Thursday afternoon on the Long Island Expressway in Manorville, his first worry was that there might be children aboard.
"I got kids of my own and my biggest concern was that there were children on the bus," Canale, 33, told reporters Friday as he recounted how he rescued two people from the burning vehicle.
The quick-thinking officer, who was on vacation and returning with his wife and children from a shopping trip, stopped his car about 1:30 p.m. on the westbound shoulder near Exit 70 and ran up to the bus.
Canale said he heard someone screaming from the front of the bus and found the driver pinned behind the steering wheel.
Suffolk County police said the bus had rear-ended a box truck that had broken down in the right lane.
Told there was an aide in the bus, Canale found a woman in the rear with blood on her face, who seemed disoriented.
After helping her out of the bus, the officer said he helped free the driver, pulling on the man's arm.
Moments later, the vehicle became fully engulfed in flames, said Canale, who lives in Farmingville.
"I did what any cop, or anybody in general, would do," said the father of two boys, ages 4 and 2.
Transit Bureau Chief Joseph Fox praised his officer. "Chris does great work on duty and off," he said.
Canale has two brothers, including a twin, who are police officers.