Neighbor saves Long Branch woman after fiery crash

June 4, 2014
Jeremy Berish stands near a burning car after he pulled its driver to safety following a crash in Long Branch early Wednesday morning.

A neighbor is being credited with saving a driver’s life by pulling her to safety from a burning car moments after she crashed in Long Branch early Wednesday morning.

Renee R. Geho was driving on Dally Road about 1:15 a.m. when she lost control and crashed into a utility pole and a home’s retaining wall near Chestnut Street, California police said.

Jeremy Berish, 38, of Long Branch, heard the crash and went outside to see what happened, police said. That’s when he found Geho lying unconscious inside her car with the vehicle smoking.

He was going to leave her in the car and try to render aid before police arrived, investigators said, but moments later the car began “popping” and Berish decided to take action as the car caught fire.

“As soon as he got there, he checked her status and wasn’t going to touch her in case she was injured,” said Charleroi Regional police Officer Billy Gardner, who responded to the call. “Once the car caught fire, he knew he had to get her out of there.”

Gardner and California police Officer Alyssa Haines arrived at the scene moments later and found the car engulfed in flames with Geho and Berish a few feet away. Gardner and Haines then pulled Geho, who was still unconscious, farther away as the heat intensified and the electrical wires from the broken utility pole began sparking.

“That car was so hot when we got on scene that I don’t know if we would’ve been able to get her out,” Gardner said. “It just seemed like it was burning forever. He did a great job.”

The two police officers kept witnesses and neighbors away from the car and power lines while waiting for firefighters to arrive to extinguish the blaze.

Geho was taken to Mon Valley Hospital in Carroll Township for treatment, where her condition was not released.

Police said they suspect Geho, 49, of Long Branch, was intoxicated at the time of the crash and plan to charge her with driving under the influence and various traffic violations.

Berish could not be reached for comment.

“I credited him a lot of times after the crash,” Gardner said. “I told him, ‘You saved that lady’s life.’”

Mike Jones has been a news reporter since 2005, covering crime, state and municipal government, education and energy. In addition to working at the Observer-Reporter, he also has spent time at the Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail and He holds a journalism degree from West Virginia University.

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