Officer Hospitalized After Stopping to Help at I-195 Crash Caused by Couch
A correctional police officer on his way home from a double shift was severely injured when he stopped to help Friday night at a crash involving multiple vehicles and a couch in the middle of Interstate 195.
Jason Rawa, 47, was driving east about 9:15 p.m. near Exit 5 in Hamilton when he pulled onto the median to assist the driver who had hit a guard rail after swerving to avoid the couch, State Police spokesman Philip Curry said that. A second vehicle struck the couch and then hit the first vehicle, pushing the car into Rawa.
Rawa was sent to a hospital to be checked out as he did not appear to be badly hurt but a closer exam showed otherwise, PBA Local 105 president William Sullivan told the Townsquare News Network.
"He had a collapsed lung, crushed aorta and broken ribs. They immediately moved him into a medically induced coma and put him on a ventilator. They put a stint in his aorta to open it back up," Sullivan said.
Curry said that Rawa was brought out of the coma on Sunday night and was in critical but stable condition.
"He's awake, he can talk. He has a little bit of a road ahead of him but he's at least conscious now he's no longer in that coma," Curry said, adding that the other drivers were not seriously injured.
Rawa is married with two small children, according to Sullivan, and is a 10-year officer working at the New Jersey State Prison in Trenton. He was the type of person who would stop to lend a hand at an accident scene, his fellow officers told Sullivan.
"Not everybody's going to stop and help in that situation. A lot of guys might keep going. It was very heroic to even get out of the car after working a double that late at night to see if you can help somebody," Sullivan said.
A GoFundMe page was created to help with his medical expenses as Rawa was injured off duty.
"The issue is when you get hurt off work, you have to go on disability and you have to pay your medical insurance as if you were working and it goes on COBRA. It can be about $1,800 a month. That's why we started the GoFundMe because he's going to be out a while, Sullivan said.
Another off-duty correctional police officer made news recently.
Faustino Saucedo stopped a man from jumping off a highway bridge in Sayreville in February. Saucedo grabbed him by the shoulders and was able to hold him long enough for a few bystanders to help lift the man to safety. He was honored by Bill Spadea during his weekly #BlueFriday segment.