HILLSBOROUGH: (updated) Off-duty officer hailed for pulling man from car on fire

Hillsborough Township police officer David Fisher is being hailed as a hero for pulling a man from a burning car in Raritan Township (Hunterdon) on Oct. 12.
Officer Fisher, who was off duty at the time of the incident, and his daughter were traveling on Featherbed Lane when they came upon the scene of a crash. The officer’s daughter called 9-1-1 while he got out, approached the vehicle, saw it was on fire and pulled front-seat passenger Nelson Ortiz out of the vehicle as police, emergency crews and paramedics were rushing to the scene.
Dale Walker, a resident of a nearby home, came with a fire extinguisher to put out the fire “that was slowly beginning to engulf the vehicle,” according to the Hunterdon County prosecutor’s office.
According to Prosecutor Anthony Kearns, “If not for the heroic efforts of an off-duty Hillsborough Township police officer and his daughter, as well as a resident of a home nearby the accident location, the outcome of the crash may have been significantly different.”
Published reports have said that Mr. Oberst was driving north when his car swerved off the road at a curve, hit a culvert, went back across the road and struck a tree close to the intersection with Old Croton Road.
Raritan Township Police Lt. Kevin Donovan said the driver told the officer that he was going at least 70 mph. The speed limit on the road is 35 mph.
Mr. Ortiz, 21, of Clinton, suffered serious injuries and is in stable condition at Capital Health Regional Medical Center after undergoing several medical procedures, the prosecutor’s press release said. An appeal on gofundme.com has raised $2,640 as of noon Friday.
Daniel K. Oberst, 20, of Flemington, was the driver of the vehicle. He was taken to the Hunterdon Medical Center, where was treated for injuries and later released.
A 17-year-old boy from Lebanon in the back seat of the vehicle was also airlifted to Capital Health hospital, where he was treated for injuries.
Prosecutor Kearns commended the “swift response and actions” of the Raritan Township police and fire company, county road department and emergency teams from the Flemington-Raritan Rescue Squad, the State Police’s NorthStar medical evacuation helicopter, Atlantic Air One medevac.
The prosecutor said Mr. Oberst has been charged with fourth-degree assault by auto, which carries a maximum penalty of 18 months in jail, and also assault by auto, a disorderly persons offense that carries a maximum penalty of six months in jail.
The charges are based on the severity of injuries received by the passengers of Mr. Oberst’s vehicle, said the press release.
Charges will be answered in Superior Court.
Lt. Donovan said Mr. Oberst was also charged with reckless driving, speeding, careless driving and failure to maintain lane control. There was no evidence of alcohol involvement, the lieutenant said.
The investigation continues. Anyone with information that could help the investigation is asked to call the prosecutor’s office Fatal Accident Collision Team at 908-788-1129 or the Raritan Township police at 908-782-8889.