Tow truck operator from Nick’s in Rutherford saves man from burning car in Kearny

John Jay “JJ” Tashjian was traveling northbound on the NJ Turnpike, returning to Nick’s Towing Service in Rutherford, from Newark, in the early morning hours of Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022, when he noticed a vehicle that crashed off the roadway and came to rest in a tall grassy area approximately 50 feet into the meadows in Kearny.

It was on fire.

He was the first person on the scene and immediately contacted Nick’s Towing Dispatch, who in turn contacted NJ Turnpike Operations and informed them of the situation.

Tashjian ran to the burning car and rescued the driver from the vehicle, pulling him out and getting him to safety and warmth inside his tow truck.

Once they were clear of the vehicle, it became fully engulfed in flames.

Turnpike Operations were updated as to the severity of the situation as the tall grass around the vehicle was beginning to catch fire. The NJ State Police, Kearny Fire Department as well as EMS were expedited to the scene.

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Once the fire was extinguished and the owner of the vehicle was being administered assistance by the EMS, Nick’s Towing team recovered the vehicle back onto the roadway, where it was safely loaded onto  a flatbed and transported to Nick’s.

“I couldn’t be more proud of John Jay’s efforts,” Nicholas F. Testa, owner of Nick’s Towing, said. “He is a courageous young man. In this day and age when most people would simply drive by a scenario like this, he instead jumped into action and put himself in jeopardy to save another person. Towing operators don’t get nearly the respect they deserve for coming to the aid of the motoring public day or night, 24/7, no matter what the weather or scenario, oftentimes in precarious situations.

“John Jay took what he does every day and stepped it up even more by coming to the aid of a complete stranger. I would like to remind everyone to please follow the law and Slow Down and Move Over when you see one of my people, or any tower, police officer, or construction worker, working on the side of the road. They all deserve to stay safe too.”

Tashjian, 35, he has been an employee of Nick’s for nearly four years and is Testa’s nephew by marriage. He grew up in the towing industry and is primarily a heavy-duty tow truck operator towing semi-trucks but also fills in when necessary to tow passenger vehicles. He is married and a lifelong resident of Paramus.

Nick’s Towing Service, meanwhile, is celebrating its 50th year in business in 2022.

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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.