By Todd Quinones
SOUTHAMPTON, N.J. (CBS) — Two New Jersey State troopers sprang into action Tuesday night, rescuing a park police officer in Shamong, Burlington County after his patrol car ended up in a marsh.
The officer’s car was upside down, partially submerged in about 3 feet of water and the officer was trapped in his car which started to take on freezing cold water.
With temperatures below freezing, New Jersey State Police troopers knew they had to move fast.
“I thought for certain we were dealing with a fatality,” New Jersey State Police Trooper Nick Renna said.
“As we showed up the only thing we saw were tail lights sticking out of the water,” New Jersey State Police Trooper James Brain said.
Troopers Nick Renna and James Brain were in about 3 feet of water when they realized the park officer’s door was jammed shut and couldn’t be opened.
“At that point, we realized that there was something a little bit more serious,” Brain said.
New Jersey Park police officer, 42-year-old Erich Ritter, apparently hit a patch of black ice. He lost control of his patrol car as he headed down Willow Grove Road where it intersects with Atsion Road.
Upside down in the marsh, officer Ritter was able to call 911 just after 11 o’clock Tuesday night.
“There was no hesitation,” Renna said. “Like I said, there was a potential life at stake.”
The troopers, with help from the Indian Mills Fire Department and other troopers, were able to break a car window, pull Ritter out, and get him to a hospital.
Fortunately, officer Ritter suffered only minor injuries and was able to return to work on Wednesday.