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NEW LONDON, Conn. (WTNH) — The New London Police Department held a ceremony Monday recognizing an off-duty police officer and a bystander who jumped into action during a fiery oil tanker truck crash last month.

State officials, local representatives and community groups honored Lt. Cornelius Rodgers and Brandon Bylo at the Garde Arts Center in New London for their heroism following the crash.

When tragedy struck on the Gold Star Bridge that April morning, the two men didn’t hesitate to help.

“These two men acted as others drove by,” said James Rovella, the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection commissioner. “They put themselves in harm’s way for two individuals.”

A car and a tanker truck carrying home heating oil collided on I-95 southbound in Groton. The truck burst into flames, killing the driver, 42-year-old Wallace Fauquet III from Gales Ferry. 

Rodgers and Bylo pulled over and hurried to rescue the other victims of the crash. They pulled out Chartel Butler and her father just seconds before the fire reached their car. 

“These people took the time out to help us, complete strangers,” Butler said. “They were right there instantly to help us.” 

Rodgers, with the New London Police Department, was off-duty at the time of the crash. 

“He is the true example of what we all hope would happen in a situation like that,” said New London Police Chief Brian Wright. “He was selfless and acted in the best interest of community members.” 

Bylo thought of his young daughter when he jumped into action. 

“I hope she has instilled in her the same value as myself and the lieutenant to act and put down the cell phone,” he said.

Rodgers hopes others do the same.

“We need more people to just do the right thing regardless of race, creed, religion,” he continued. “Just do what’s right.”

Wright said there was another person who assisted in the rescue. He wanted to remain anonymous but was still recognized by the police department. 

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