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News Maryland Howard County Columbia

Teen pulled from burning car by Howard officer remains in critical condition

The teen pulled from a burning, overturned car by an off-duty Howard County Police officer near Route 97 in Carroll County last week has been released from the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center and admitted to Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, where she remains in critical condition.

The teen, identified as Casey Marie Bellofatto, 18, of Sykesville, was discharged from Shock Trauma on Monday afternoon, a spokesperson said.

Bellofatto was flown to Shock Trauma in critical condition after the accident, which occurred on Jan. 11.

According to police, Cpl. Craig Ream, a member of the Howard County Police SWAT team, was driving to the station about 3 a.m., when he came across a two-vehicle accident and noticed that one of the cars, which was overturned in an embankment off the side of the road, was on fire.

Ream, with fire extinguisher in hand, leapt into action.

"I was able to beat back the flames and, as I was trying to look into the car with my flashlight, ... I eventually saw the girl that was inside," Ream said over the phone Friday. "I had to make a decision to see if I can try and help this person."

Ream, 34, of Carroll County, said it was about that time that the adrenaline kicked in.

"If I was going to help her, I was going to have to go in and get her out," Ream said. 

Police said Ream crawled under the hood of the car toward the windshield area, squeezed his way into the cabin through a small opening, and pulled Bellofatto.

"I could feel the flames coming back on me, I knew I didn't have a lot of time," Ream said. "I couldn't reach her initially, but I was able to her extract through a small opening."

Ream, with the assistance of Carroll County Sheriff's Deputy Corporal Gunnar Burdt who had just arrived, pulled Bellofatto up the hill, away from the burning wreckage.

"This took amazing courage," Howard Police Chief William McMahon said in a statement. "I couldn't be more proud. We hear the word 'hero' used all the time, but Craig's actions this morning were truly heroic."

Ream, who police said was soaked in gasoline and covered in blood, said he was grateful for McMahon's accolades, but that he was just doing his job.

"I don’t feel I'm hero. I feel I did something any police officer would do. I did what I had to do," Ream said. 

Ream was taken to Howard County General Hospital to be treated for burns, cuts and scrapes, and was released.

Maryland State Police are investigating the crash, according to the news release.

Correction: An earlier version of this story had Casey Marie Bellofatto being released from the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center but failed to include that she has been admitted to Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, where she remains in critical condition.

 

llavoie@tribune.com

twitter.com/lukehocotimes

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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