Commander, Submarine Group Two


USS Springfield Sailor Rescues Driver from Burning Car

LEDYARD, Conn. (NNS) -- A Sailor from Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Springfield (SSN 761) saved the life of a Ledyard citizen after pulling him from a burning vehicle, Jan. 18.

Chief Culinary Specialist Daniel Spencer, a native of Saegertown, Penn., was at the right place at the right time while driving home from his duty station at Naval Submarine Base New London.

Spencer witnessed a head-on motor vehicle collision. A car driving northbound on Route 12 swerved into the oncoming lane of a car driving southbound resulting in the head-on collision, and igniting one of the vehicles.

Relying on skills learned from years of emergency training, he reacted instinctively.

"During my commute I witnessed an accident involving two cars in front of me," said Spencer. "I knew I had to react quickly. I safely pulled over on the side of the road and ran over to the closest vehicle to me and assisted the driver out of the vehicle. I escorted her to the curb then I ran over to the other vehicle, which was burning, to offer my assistance."

However, the driver was unresponsive as Spencer tried to gain access to the occupant's car.

"He was unresponsive and the doors were locked," he said. "I tried to break the window with my elbow multiple times, but thankfully he responded to the banging and unlocked the door allowing me to escort him safely from the smoking vehicle."

In a Jan. 29 letter to Spencer, Chief Anthony Saccone, Sr., Chief of the Gales Ferry Fire Company reflected on Spencer's bravery and selfless act to render aide.

"Despite the car being heavily damaged from the impact, you were able to get the door open and assist the injured driver to a safe location as the car began to burn more intensely," said Saccone.

"On behalf of the Town of Ledyard and the Gales Ferry Fire Company, I would like to extend our sincere thanks for your selflessness and outstanding bravery," he wrote. "Your actions at a two-car motor vehicle accident; of which one of the vehicles was on fire, were highly commendable. Without the thought of danger you could be putting yourself in, you approached the first heavily damaged vehicle that still had an occupant inside."

Saccone said that without Spencer's quick, decisive thinking, the occupant would have been in extremely grave danger, and the incident may have had a worse outcome.

Saccone said Spencer reminded him of Tacitus, a great Italian writer who wrote 2000 years ago, "In valor there is hope. Valor is courage, bravery, fearlessness ... and gallantry. Daniel, these words describe your actions that day," said Saccone.