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Monroe men get Carnegie award

Pocono Mountain Regional Police officer Kyle VanNote of Kunkletown and Hilton Quintana of Mount Pocono are being honored as 2017 Carnegie Heroes for saving a man from a burning car in August 2016.

“I live at the end of a long driveway on a rural road,” said Quintana. “My wife, she heard something and called me up from the basement, I ran down the driveway and I see the car upside down and on fire.”

Quintana’s wife, Aida, called 911 while he rushed to the burning vehicle where Andreas Kruizenga, 65, of Cresco was trapped.

“When I arrived you could hear Mr. Kruizenga screaming for help and blowing the horn,” said VanNote. “Mr. Quintana arrived at the car about the same time I got there.”

“I never gave it a second thought,” Quintana said. “This man was maybe going to burn alive and I was not going to let that happen if I could do something.”

“We tried to free him from the front door, but with the flame coming from the engine compartment we couldn’t,” VanNote said. “We had to move to the back door. Mr. Kruizenga was stuck. We both had to pull him free.”

According to the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission release, Kruizenga, who suffered burns to his arms and legs, had recovered from his injuries.

The Carnegie Medal is given throughout the United States and Canada to those who risk their lives to an extraordinary degree while saving or attempting to save the lives of others. In the past 113 years the commission has recognized 9,991 citizens for their acts of heroism.

“This is kind of embarrassing,” VanNote said. “Police officers don’t expect to get recognition for what we do every day. That day I just was in the right place at the right time.”

“I was very surprised when the police called me and told me about this honor,” said Quintana. “I was taken completely by surprise. I was expecting a handshake and maybe a certificate. I would have been happy with that. I did not expect this.”

“I just really wanted to make sure that the driver is OK.”

Both Quintana and VanNote will be awarded $5,000 for their selfless act of heroism.

“I think I am going to let my wife decide what to do with the money,” said Quintana.

VanNote was promoted to Detective in January.