Wilton man honored as hero

Thomas Dubin

Thomas Dubin

The New Canaan Police Department has awarded Wilton resident Thomas Dubin the Civilian Service Award for rescuing a man from a burning vehicle.

The award description reads in part, “This honor will be awarded to any citizen who, without concern for their own safety, renders prompt assistance to any person who is in danger.”

The award was presented on June 27.

New Canaan Police said the incident occurred on May 3 at 6:56 p.m., when officers responded to the intersection of Cross Ridge and North Wilton roads. They had received a report that a vehicle struck a tree and caught fire, with the driver unconscious and still inside.

Responding officers arrived and found the injured driver out of the burning vehicle, lying down a safe distance away. Members of the New Canaan Police Department, the Wilton Police Department, the New Canaan Volunteer Ambulance Corps, and the New Canaan Fire Department assisted in responding to the scene and rendering aid to the injured driver, who was taken to Norwalk Hospital.

The investigating officers quickly determined that a passerby, Wilton resident Dubin, pulled the unconscious driver from the burning 1991 Saab 9-3S, prior to their arrival. New Canaan Police Sgt. Kevin Casey, who was the on-duty patrol supervisor that evening, subsequently nominated  Dubin to receive the award for his heroism at the accident scene.

The nomination noted, “The fire, which started towards the front bumper, was now partially engulfing the passenger cabin of the vehicle. We learned that Thomas Dubin had pulled the driver from the burning car prior to our arrival. It was clear that Mr. Dubin’s actions saved the life of that driver.”

Before officers arrived on scene, the nomination states, “the car was burning to a point that we may not have been able to get the driver out of the vehicle. He surely would have been severely burned by that point.

The operator of the one-car accident was not cited for any offense and is recovering from injuries at home.

Dubin, 55, an attorney and retired pharmaceuticals executive who is vice chairman of the Wilton Democratic Town Committee, said it was a matter of being in the right place at the right time.

“My actions just felt like the right thing to do, and I am certain that most people who had a similar assessment of the speed of the fire and likely response time for the emergency responders would have done the exact same thing,” he told The Bulletin. “Yes, I was concerned about the fire, but it didn’t seem like the most important factor at the time.”

He said it was nice the New Canaan Police Department recognized his actions.

“I’m keeping the commendation in perspective, however, as the room was filled with professionals who dedicate their lives to protecting our communities, and in fact one sergeant was being honored for having saved his seventh life,” he said.

The best part, from a publicity perspective, is that the driver learned who he was and came to visit him.

“He came over to my home and we shared a beer and a wonderful conversation in my backyard,” Dubin said.

Dubin lives in town with his wife, Pam, and their children, Emma, Jonah and Stella.

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