Wilton Police Sgt. Thomas Tunney was awarded the 2013 New England Chiefs of Police Medal of Valor award on Tuesday, Sept. 10. This annual award is presented once per year to recognize an accomplishment of bravery in the New England region.

Sgt. Tunney was nominated to receive this award in recognition of a life-saving action during which he pulled a 53-year-old man from a burning car in October 2012.

“The Wilton officer willingly placed himself in grave danger when we responded to a car accident that day,” a press release from the Wilton Police Department said.

“When the officer arrived on scene, he found that a vehicle had left the road and crashed into a wooded area, catching fire. He approached the burning car and repeatedly attempted to remove the driver from the vehicle. Sgt. Tunney used multiple fire extinguishers to stem the flames long enough to remove the unconscious driver.”

According to the Wilton Fire Department, several small explosions were heard during the incident and the flames reached more then 20 feet into the air. By all accounts, the driver would have suffered fatal injuries if not for the efforts of Sgt. Tunney. The car was destroyed.

Sgt. Tunney received minor injuries due to his proximity to the burning vehicle, the release said. He was honored in Plymouth, Mass., at the New England Association of Chiefs Police Training Conference banquet.

Earlier this year, Sgt. Tunney was named Officer of the Year at the Wilton Police Department’s annual awards ceremony. He also received the department’s Medal of Honor.

For his heroic efforts, Sgt. Tunney was also recognized by the fire department, which assisted in the rescue of the burning car’s driver. The fire department awarded him a special commendation.

“Sergeant Tunney could have easily retreated from the burning vehicle,” said police Chief Michael Lombardo, “but he chose not to during his rescue, putting himself in peril, [because he was] determined to save the life of the injured operator.  Heroes, such as Sgt. Tunney, live by a moral code. They are selfless.”