Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Q/A DANYEN KOMOREK; Commission Praises Trooper for Saving Driver's Life

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Q/A DANYEN KOMOREK; Commission Praises Trooper for Saving Driver's Life

Article excerpt

Byline: HEATHER LOVEJOY

It wasn't just a normal day, but Danyen Komorek, a Florida Highway Patrol trooper for 10 years, didn't really show it. Only her wet uniform gave it away.

Chief Chuck Cooper of Nassau County Fire Rescue said he saw Komorek that day, April 15, at a crash scene. As politely as possible, he asked why her pants were wet.

He said Komorek, 35, of Callahan, explained that she had jumped into three feet of water earlier that day to pull a man out of a burning minivan.

After traveling the wrong way on Interstate 95 in Nassau County, the van went into a ditch and struck a tree about 7:45 a.m., according to FHP. Because of severe diabetes complications, the driver was disoriented. Minutes later, Komorek happened to drive onto the interstate from Florida 200/A1A. She responded without hesitation, and as the fire progressed quickly to the engine compartment and front windshield, she pulled the man out, FHP reported.

After a recommendation from the fire department, the Nassau County Commission presented a commendation to Komorek last week.

My Nassau Sun spoke with Komorek on Monday by phone:

What happened that morning?

I saw smoke coming from the woods line. I could see the car submerged in the ditch and when I got closer I noticed the driver was unconscious.

[Another trooper and I] banged on the window to try to get him to come to, but he was out of it. He finally came to and was able to roll down the window, and I grabbed him by his right arm and pulled him out.

The van fully engulfed in fire after that.

What went through your mind when you first saw the minivan on fire?

I was thinking no one was in there. But then I got closer and saw the driver, so I knew I had to get him out. I was in the right place at the right time.

Your heart must have been racing.

It was. There were a million things going through my mind. But you don't think about what's in the water. You don't think about the danger. You just think about what you have to do. Afterwards, I thought about that and anything could have happened.

Was the driver badly hurt?

The airbag deployed and busted his nose.

Did he know what was going on? …

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