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Police Officer, Dad Honored for Rushing Into Raging Inferno

Manchester Police Officer Gerad Gonzalez and good samaritan Joe Caruso were honored for heroism and bravery for pulling an unconscious man from a fiery crash.

The two very modest men are almost embarrassed by the attention and gratitude they are receiving since

However, Monday night, once again the spotlight was set on Officer Gerad Gonzalez and Kirkwood resident Joe Caruso. With their wives, children and parents by their sides, both men were honored by the City of Manchester. 

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As previously reported by Town and Country - Manchester Patch, . It all happened after a fiery crash at . (The rescue, crash scene and events that unfolded afterward were all caught on the police dash cam video in this article.)

Monday, Gonzalez, a 16-year veteran of law enforcement, was honored for heroism, while Caruso, whose 15-year-old daughter was with him at the time of the crash, received an honor for citizen bravery.

Both men tell Patch they do not consider themselves the "heroes" that many residents have called them since that night.

"Training took over and that's why I did what I did," Gonzalez tells Patch. He said he did not expect a proclamation of heroism for his efforts. "I was overwhelmed. As long as Caruso was awarded, that's all I care about."

Caruso, a graduate, also tells Patch he never expected such attention for his actions.

"Very strange when I saw my picture on the news," Caruso said. "I obviously don't think of myself like that. I'm just a normal dad, a normal husband. I'm fortunate that everything worked out all right."

A sentiment that is shared by their family's, especially both wives, that say they are so proud of their husbands, but think about that night and how it could have ended differently.

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"I didn't know what emotion I was feeling. I was scared, I was sad. The next day I was mad," Gonzalez's wife Tammy explained. 

"My initial reaction was my heart just sank," Bridget Caruso said when she learned of the incident. "Our whole family was kind of in shock that night. It was very surreal. And every day it sank in, and sank in, how our lives could have changed that night."

In fact, His daughter tells Patch she told her dad not to go to the burning vehicles. However, with no one else there yet, Caruso went to the cars, first helping the female driver who was trapped inside a Chevrolet Blazer engulfed in flames, then helping Gonzalez save the Tahoe driver.

"Very proud. Just the bravery," Bridget Caruso tells Patch of her husband's actions. 

Gonzalez's wife Tammy said the same. Although such a situation is unsettling, she's nothing but proud of her husband.

"So honored to be his wife," she tells Patch.

Plus, if you have a comment you'd like to make on this story, please post a comment below!

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Phil Gonzalez August 21, 2012 at 01:31 PM
I am proud of Joe Caruso and my cousin, Manchester Officer Gerad Gonzalez. Their parents would be proud of both of them.
Gabrielle Biondo August 21, 2012 at 03:21 PM
Phil - check out some of the photos from last night in the article. Their parents were there - and you are right, very proud!:)
Neal Handler August 23, 2012 at 04:30 PM
Great to read this story and glad everyone will be ok. What was the cause of the crash?
Gabrielle Biondo August 23, 2012 at 05:17 PM
St. Louis County Police are handling the crash investigation. I spoke with them yesterday and it's still being investigated, however, police, fire crews and witnesses on the scene that night tell Patch the Tahoe ran into the back of the Blazer (which was completely stopped at a red light). The impact appears to have ignited both cars. There is more to this I'm sure and working with St. Louis County police as they handle the incident. May know more as soon as this afternoon, but probably not. However, I will post an update as soon as I learn more.

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