Heroic Trooper Rescues Truck Driver


A Massachusetts state trooper, already honored for rescuing a man from a burning vehicle two years ago, became a hero again on Sunday when she pulled  an unconscious truck driver from a flaming crash moments after his rig hit a steel bridge support.

Trooper Allyson Powell was first on the scene in Fall River, Mass., early Sunday when she found driver Luis Cotto, 42, of Taunton, lying over the barrier, Massachusetts State Police said. The smoke was so intense that Powell had to slam on her brakes and run to the rescue, putting her own life at risk. She then dragged Cotto 180 feet from the fiery crash. A wooden scaffold from ongoing construction went into flames, producing  heat so intense that it caused significant damage to the infrastructure and resulted in numerous road closures, police said.

"Trooper Powell's actions today exemplify what troopers do throughout the Commonwealth every day," State Police spokesman David Procopio said in a statement to ABCNews.com. "They respond to a scene relying on their training and experience to protect and save lives, with the knowledge they are putting their own safety at risk."

Police said Cotto had been driving southbound on Route 79 when his 1992 tractor truck, without a trailer, struck the barrier on the right side of the roadway, veered left onto the curb and rode along the guardrail until he struck a steel support.

Cotto was admitted to Rhode Island Hospital, and a hospital spokeswoman today  told ABCNews.com that he was treated and discharged Sunday night. He could not be reached for comment.

Powell is no stranger to life-threatening situations. She was awarded a Carnegie Hero Fund medal after she broke the window of a burning car in July 2010, and with the help of two bystanders, dragged the driver to safety before the vehicle was engulfed in flames.

"For Trooper Powell, this is the second time in as many years she has rescued a person from a burning vehicle," said Procopio. "Her bravery in the face of personal danger was just as selfless and remarkable the second time around as it was the first time."

 Powell declined ABCNews.com's requests for comment.