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Howard County Police Officer Pulls Teen From Burning Car

Cpl. Craig Ream spotted the burning vehicle on his way into work and swung into action.

OUTSIDE BALTIMORE, MD -- A local police officer crawled under the hood of a burning car and squeezed himself through a small opening to pull a teenage woman from a wreck early Friday morning, according to police.

The woman, Casey Marie Bellofatto, 18, of Sykesville, was transported to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in critical condition, according to a police statement.

Cpl. Craig Ream, an 11-year veteran of the Howard County police department, was on his way to work around 3 a.m. to serve a search warrant, when he happened upon the crash on Route 97 in Carroll County, said police. That's when he attempted to use a fire extinguisher to combat the blaze, but it had little effect, and so he decided to risk his own safety to attempt to save the woman.

"This took amazing courage," said Police Chief William McMahon. "I couldn't be more proud. We hear the word 'hero' used all the time, but Craig's actions this morning were truly heroic."

After pulling the woman from the burning car, Ream and Carroll County Sheriff's Deputy Corporal Gunnar Burdt carried her up a hill, away from the vehicle, said police.

Ream, who police reported was soaked with gasoline and covered in blood, was transported to Howard County General Hospital and treated for burns, cuts and scrapes. He was later released, said police.

Bellofatto's 2010 Toyota Corrolla was heading southbound on Route 97 when it crossed the double yellow center line and collided head on with a 2000 Honda Accord being driven northbound by a 63-year-old Westminster woman, according to Maryland State Police.

The Toyota then veered off the roadway, overturned and caught fire, at which point Ream came upon the wreck and pulled Bellofatto from the vehicle, according to police.

The Westminster woman, Christine Elizabeth Stramm, was flown to shock trauma in serious condition, said state police.

Joellen Hall January 15, 2013 at 02:33 AM
If the consequences of my stupidity at that age had caught up with me, I'd never made it to adulthood. People upset because an 18 year old screwed up are either STUPID, or too old to remember how STUPID they were at that age. I was raised in a good home, complete with good parents, got good grades and never got into trouble with the law for any reason. Yet, I can recall some really stupid things I did when I got my driver's license, including taking my little sedan into some places a jeep shouldn't even go, and living to tell about it. We don't all get all our brain cells by age 18, no matter what our parents tried to teach us. Don't apologize to people who have no clue what Casey was doing out there. It's none of their business unless she hurt them.
MG42 January 15, 2013 at 02:54 AM
Joellen, it's bad customer service. They should serve when people are awake. Gestapo.
Joellen Hall January 15, 2013 at 02:59 AM
You're thinking of this from the eyes (hopefully) of a law abiding citizen, not a law breaker. You, nor I, have any idea what kind of person the warrant was being served on. Could be a meth lab they need to catch in the act and by surprise. Could be someone suspected of holding another person against their will. I do know enough about the kinds of things cops deal with to hold my judgment until I have better information. You won't think its "Gestapo" tactics one of these days when something like this may save you, or benefit you or someone you hold dear.
CSB January 16, 2013 at 12:48 AM
Thank you Joellen and Patti.
MG42 January 16, 2013 at 12:49 AM
Joellen, we don't know all the facts. And I'm certainly curious what fact pattern exists that justified a 3am raid on a Howard County resident. Seems over the top on its face.

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