Off-duty firefighter honored for 'extraordinary heroism' in 405 plane crash rescue

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Fire Captain John Meffert is a real-life hero and Tuesday he was honored for his quick thinking in saving two people from a plane that crashed in a fireball on the 405 Freeway June 30.

Meffert was the first to arrive on the scene of the fiery plane crash. According to witness accounts, he put his vehicle in reverse on the freeway and headed back toward the crash, running toward the flames to render aid to the people inside.

MORE: Small plane crashes on 405 Freeway near John Wayne Airport; 2 injured

"While driving on the crowded 405 Freeway towards the John Wayne Airport he noticed an aircraft was flying unusually low. It was only seconds later that he realized the aircraft was coming directly toward him," said Janice Hahn of the Los Angeles County Board Of Supervisors.

"While most of us would have been too shaken to move Captain Meffert's natural instinct was to get out of his vehicle and head towards the plane now engulfed in fire. But Captain Meffert demonstrated extraordinary heroism by putting his own life on the line to save the lives of two strangers in need," said Hahn.

Meffert previously said in a press conference in the wake of the crash that the whole plane was engulfed, but there were less flames on the passenger side, which made it easier for him to get the couple out.

MORE: Off-duty firefighter, witnesses pull victims from 405 plane crash

"We have many angels on the freeway traveling everyday. I just happened to be one of them that day," said Meffert.

Francis and Jana Pisano, the couple Meffert pulled from the wreckage are recovering from their injuries.

MORE: 405 Freeway plane crash survivors' children speak out, thank first responders

The couple's son and daughter, Ronnie and Joanna Pisano, released a statement, saying, "We are truly touched and encouraged by all the thoughts and prayers from our family, friends and the entire community. We would like to thank the off-duty first responders and nurses who stopped to rescue our parents, including John Meffert."
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