At approximately 5:10 p.m. on Friday, April 5, Trooper Ablett was on his way home after completing a shift at the New Jersey State Police Marine Services station in Atlantic City. After a long day searching for a missing boater off the shores of Cape May, Trooper Ablett was looking forward to a quiet evening.
But that quiet evening turned out to be quite the opposite. Heading westbound on Route 30, Trooper Ablett came upon a crash involving an overturned vehicle in a retention pond. All he could see were the rear wheels of the car sticking out of the water and, as he exited his vehicle, he heard someone screaming for help. He called dispatch for assistance and jumped into the frigid water.
Luis Roselli—a good Samaritan who was nearby when the crash occurred—was already assisting the first victim, the driver who had made it out of the vehicle on his own. Together Trooper Ablett and Roselli entered the cold water and worked quickly to extricate two more unconscious victims from the vehicle and bring them to shore. The last victim, a pregnant female, was unable to unbuckle her seat belt, and neither rescuer was sure that he could get her out in time. The two men worked frantically to keep her head above water. When emergency responders arrived, a responder gave Roselli a sharp knife that he used to cut the young woman's seat belt to get her out of the vehicle.
All four of the victims were transported to a local hospital where they were treated for undisclosed injures. There is little doubt that the three people trapped inside the submerged vehicle survived due to the quick actions of Trooper Ablett and Roselli.
Trooper Ablett, a nine-year law enforcement veteran, said that all New Jersey troopers are trained to perform similar rescues and that any trooper would have acted in the same manner. He also expressed thanks to Roselli for being a good Samaritan.
According to Christopher Burgos, president of the State Trooper Fraternal Association of New Jersey, "Trooper Ablett's actions exemplify the finest qualities of the law enforcement profession and the New Jersey State Police. The fact that this occurred while he was off-duty highlights those qualities even more."
Trooper Ablett, along with the other Officer of the Month Award winners for 2013, will be honored at a special awards luncheon in Washington, D.C., in May 2014, during National Police Week.