WILTON, Conn. – For putting his life at risk to help save a man trapped inside a burning car last fall, Wilton Police Sgt. Thomas Tunney was honored Monday night as 2013 Officer of the Year during the department’s annual awards ceremony.
A 28-year veteran of the department, Tunney’s act of bravery also earned him the Medal of Honor, the department’s highest award.
On Oct. 9, a 52-year-old Norwalk man was trapped inside his burning car following an accident. The driver was traveling north on Hurlbutt Street near Maplewood Lane when the car drove off the road, struck a tree, rolled onto its left side and caught fire, police said.
Tunney, the first responder at the scene, rushed to the car to find the driver. When he reached it, flames had spread to the front interior of the car, police said.
Tunney used fire extinguishers handed to him by Officers Robert Cipolla and Anna Tornello to keep the flames back as he tried to pull the driver from the car. It took several attempts before the driver was freed.
The driver was hospitalized with burns and other injuries, police said. Tunney, who received minor injuries, was treated by Wilton EMS.
During the awards ceremony, Officers Cipolla and Tornello also received awards. Cipolla, who’s being promoted to the rank of sergeant next month, was given the Meritorious Police Service award.
Other officers who received awards Monday include Lt. Stephen Brennan; Officer Joseph Calorossi; Officer Anthony Cocco; Sgt. James Dempsey; Officer Edward Dolenk; Officer Shawn Frendt; Officer Timothy Fridinger; Officer Steven Gelineau; Officer David Hartman; Det. Christopher Isidro; Officer Paul Lichtenberger; Capt. John Lynch; Officer Robert Nosal; Det. Scott Sear; Officer Daniel Sell; Officer Stephen Sisenstein; Sgt. William Tanner; Det. Kip Tarrant; Det. Peter Trahan; and Lt. Donald Wakeman.