Oliver Rein, a 16-year-old junior firefighter from the Great Neck Alert Fire Company, received one the state’s top honors on Monday, after saving a man and his passenger who crashed their car in the summer.
That award was the state Liberty Medal, the highest honor the state Senate can give a New York resident. It is bestowed upon someone who has “merited special commendation for exceptional, heroic or humanitarian acts on behalf of their fellow New Yorkers,” according to a state proclamation.
“Oliver Rein embodies all of the characteristics of true hero: courage, bravery and selflessness,” said state Sen. Elaine Phillips, who awarded Rein the medal. “Without hesitation, instead of running away or calling for help, Oliver ran toward the danger to ensure the driver and passenger received the care they needed.”
Rein, who had spent two years as a junior firefighter, recalled walking along Middle Neck Road on a rainy summer day in August.
He said he and his friends saw the car swerving and briefly go airborne before crashing into a tree. Also, according to the state proclamation, the vehicle had hit two poles.
For a moment, they were in shock, he said. But moments later he rushed to the car along with David Adler, a friend, and pried open the crushed door to find a bloodied passenger sprinkled in broken glass.
“We thought he had died at first, because he wasn’t responding to us at first,” Rein said.
Rein then opened the crushed door and pulled the blood-and-glass coated driver from the smoking vehicle, Rein said, and carried him and another passenger away from harm with David Adler’s help.
Using skills he’d learned with the Alert Fire Company, such as basic medical and first aid and how to treat victims dealing with shock, Rein stayed with the shaken driver and spoke calmly with him as someone else called for help.
“It was my pleasure to award Oliver with the much-deserved New York State Senate Liberty Medal for his tremendous act of heroism,” Phillips said.
Great Neck resident David Adler also received a state proclamation.
Rein said that he was thankful to state Sen. Phillips for this award, but also grateful to the Alert Fire Company for teaching him the skills he needed to respond to this kind of situation.
“I want to encourage anyone in the community who’s looking to help benefit the community to join the Alert Fire Company or the junior Alerts,” Rein said.