NYPD officer meets retired detectives who saved her from a burning car nearly 30 years ago

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A New York Police Department (NYPD) officer recently had an emotional reunion with the two men who saved her life as a child.

Dennise Gomez, who joined the force in 2022, had a near-death experience in July 1996, according to FOX 5 New York. She was trapped in a burning car in East Harlem with her brother and mother. 

The two now-retired detectives, Eric Ocasio and Charles Claudio, had been patrolling on East 116th Street and noticed gasoline dripping from the car. Then, the vehicle caught fire, FOX 5 New York reported.

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“The officers heard a ‘poof,’” NYPD Public Information Assistant Commissioner Carlos Nieves described.

Ocasio and Claudio ran to the flaming car and broke its windows. They found a mother screaming with two toddlers inside.

The officers worked quickly to pull the family members out of the car. The mother and children were safe, but Ocasio suffered smoke inhalation and Claudio’s ankle was sprained.

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“The cops and the family [were] astonished that the vehicle did not explode, fatally injuring them all, then [they] watched from the sidewalk as firefighters put the vehicle’s flames out,” Nieves said.

Ocasio hugging Gomez

On Jan. 12, the NYPD shared news of the reunion on the department’s Facebook page. 

“In 1996 when then Police Officers Eric Ocasio & Charles Claudio rescued a two-year-old girl from a burning car they never imagined that she would grow up to be a Police Officer, inspired by their actions,” the post said.

During the meeting, Gomez walked up and hugged each of the men. She described the moment as “emotional.”

“I finally get to meet them,” the officer, who was told stories about the rescue as a child, said. 

“I want to do what they did for me.”

NYPD commissioner Edward Caban presented the young officer with Ocasio’s same shield number. Ocasio told reporters that he knew he “did something right 30 years ago.”

Gomez hugging Claudio

Claudio said it was a “privilege” to learn that Gomez joined the force and is now “part of the family.”

“It’s an honor,” he said.

Fox News Digital reached out to the NYPD for comment.

For more Lifestyle articles, visit www.foxnews.com/lifestyle.

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