Sykesville Teen in Critical Condition After Being Rescued From Burning Car

The dramatic rescue 'took amazing courage,' said Howard County Police Chief William McMahon.


A Howard County police officer crawled under the hood of a burning car and squeezed himself through a small opening to pull a teenage woman from a wreck on Route 97 in Carroll County early Friday morning, according to police.

The woman, Casey Marie Bellofatto, 18, of Sykesville, was transported to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in critical condition, according to a police statement.

Cpl. Craig Ream, an 11-year veteran of the police department, was on his way to work around 3 a.m. to serve a search warrant, when he happened upon the crash, said police. That's when he attempted to use a fire extinguisher to combat the blaze, but it had little effect, and so he decided to risk his own safety to attempt to save the woman.

"This took amazing courage," said Police Chief William McMahon. "I couldn't be more proud. We hear the word 'hero' used all the time, but Craig's actions this morning were truly heroic."

After pulling the woman from the burning car, Ream and Carroll County Sheriff's Deputy Corporal Gunnar Burdt carried her up a hill, away from the vehicle, said police.

Ream, who police reported was soaked with gasoline and covered in blood, was transported to Howard County General Hospital and treated for burns, cuts and scrapes. He was later released, said police.

Bellofatto's 2010 Toyota Corrolla was heading southbound on Route 97 when it crossed the double yellow center line and collided head on with a 2000 Honda Accord being driven northbound by a 63-year-old Westminster woman, according to Maryland State Police.

The Toyota then veered off the roadway, overturned and caught fire, at which point Ream came upon the wreck and pulled Bellofatto from the vehicle, according to police.

The Westminster woman, Christine Elizabeth Stramm, was flown to shock trauma in serious condition, said state police.

Maryland State police said it is unknown at this time if speed or alcohol were a factor in the collision.

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Ed January 13, 2013 at 05:43 AM
I agree, except that, according the the CCT story, the CCSO Deputy also helped to pull her from the car. If that's the case, then the Patch story glosses over his contribution, and I think that is every bit as bad as the CCT headline.
Jeri Herl January 13, 2013 at 07:00 PM
I was involved in a fatal head on car crash as a passenger when I was 15 that the driver died in. After I spent a month in the hospital, a stranger who read about it in the paper sent me a letter and told me about salvation in Christ and how God did spare my life for a purpose. I resisted that truth for a few years after, but did fully turn to God at age 19. I am now 61 and know that good or bad, God who is in control and loves us. I will pray for this young lady and her family. I am so thankful for this wonderful hero or heros since I too was pulled from a vehicle by an officer who rescued me!
Dennis Champney January 13, 2013 at 07:15 PM
Casey, Please pull through! You are one of the nicest students I have ever taught! My prayers continue for you and your family!
kara January 15, 2013 at 12:55 PM
drinking or not, a life was saved and an officer did his job. pray for both families who were injurded. never judge.
Scott A. Bellofatto January 24, 2013 at 09:44 PM
@ Donna that's ok, things get say before we know of things sometimes, and thank you for your kind words, prayers are needed for Casey. Sorry to hear about your son and over a cell phone, unbelievable, hope your son is doing much better now,, GOD BLESS


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