Howard County Police Officer Pulls Teen From Burning Car

Cpl. Craig Ream spotted the burning vehicle on his way into work and swung into action.

OUTSIDE BALTIMORE, MD -- A local 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 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 Howard County police department, was on his way to work around 3 a.m. to serve a search warrant, when he happened upon the crash on Route 97 in Carroll County, 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.

Vick Krishna January 12, 2013 at 02:51 AM
great man
methisguy January 12, 2013 at 06:28 AM
outstanding, sir! don't think serving that warrant was your reason for being on that road at that time.
Keith B. January 12, 2013 at 12:40 PM
Couldn't have said it better. Her parents will be forever grateful for your quick selfless action.
MG42 January 12, 2013 at 02:14 PM
Respect. This is a rare office in the HCPD who goes above the call of duty. However, are search warrants typically served at 3AM? What kind of Gestapo tactic is that?
Justin case January 12, 2013 at 02:21 PM
That's the best time to serve a warrant. Catch them off gaurd while their sleeping
Margie January 12, 2013 at 03:59 PM
The search warrant isn't the issue. This officer could just have easily died or ended up maimed and disabled. If he was in the military, this would have earned him a purple heart.
MG42 January 12, 2013 at 04:56 PM
I don't know about you, but if someone knocked on my door at 3AM, I'd be in all out defense mode, and I'm sure the police are in defense mode in serving them at that hour. I'm surprised more people, both citizens and police officers alike, are not hurt during these middle of the night scenarios. Serving search warrants at that hour is terrible customer service on behalf of the police department.
number9dream January 12, 2013 at 05:26 PM
The question I have is: What was 18 year-old Ms. Bellofatto doing crossing double yellows at 3 a.m., subsequently endangering two innocent lives.
Charlene Riikonen January 12, 2013 at 05:34 PM
Officer Ream is a hero! With so much sad and bad news, what a wonderful story!
Linnea January 12, 2013 at 06:58 PM
The law doesn't sleep, why should the criminal. If you do the crime you should be prepared to face the consequences no matter the time of day or night. Kudos to Officer Ream!!! Praying for all involved.
RVN Vet January 13, 2013 at 04:59 PM
First, congratulations and thanks to Officer Ream -- and may honors be bestowed on you, sir. Second, Linnea, it's a search warrant, not a conviction. The police most likely had a good reason for wanting to serve this warrant at that hour, but that doesn't mean you can make a blanket statement like you made. Innocent until proved otherwise, remember?
Patti January 14, 2013 at 06:42 PM
Can't we just say, thank God the officer was going by at that time? What does it matter where he was going? That young girl would have lost her life if he hadn't been there. That's what the focus should be. That and to tell our young people they shouldn't be out driving at 3 a.m. It just takes a second to nod off and lose control of a car. I don't know that is what happened, but at 3a.m., it is likely. Hope everyone involved will be okay.
CSB January 14, 2013 at 07:47 PM
Being personally involved as Casey is family, we could thank Officer Ream enough for risking his life to help saves hers. As I told my child, this is the reason why I am hard on you about where you re going and why time you are coming home. I get the angry people will have over this and the things they will say about an 18 year old being out at that time but there is so much more than you will ever know about things. It's easy to judge when you don't know. I would not wish this on anyone or on any family. Casey is paying a big price and possibly a bigger one for the lack of judgement she made they night by being out. None of this is to make excuses for her actions but remember that so many other people's lives have been turned upside down right now. No family ever thinks they will be in this position, it could be yours. Again we will always be forever grateful to Officer Reams.
Patti January 15, 2013 at 01:59 AM
CSB, your are so right. None of us know the whole story,so we shouldn't judge and Casey as a lot to deal with. Thank heaven there was someone there to help her when she needed it or this story could be turning out quite differently. This could happen in any of our families.What is needed now is support for her and the family and lots of prayers. Hopefully our young people will realize that bad things happen to good people and they have stop and think a little more. Prayers to your family and to Officer Ream.
Joellen Hall January 15, 2013 at 02:26 AM
Do you know how many prior attempts may have been made to serve that warrant? I don't, but I do know they will serve warrants whenever the intended received is available, and if that's at 3 AM, that's when they'll serve it. Serving a warrant is in no way a Gesapo tactic. Don't make wild accusations when you don't have all he facts.
Joellen Hall January 15, 2013 at 02:33 AM
If the consequences of my stupidity at that age had caught up with me, I'd never made it to adulthood. People upset because an 18 year old screwed up are either STUPID, or too old to remember how STUPID they were at that age. I was raised in a good home, complete with good parents, got good grades and never got into trouble with the law for any reason. Yet, I can recall some really stupid things I did when I got my driver's license, including taking my little sedan into some places a jeep shouldn't even go, and living to tell about it. We don't all get all our brain cells by age 18, no matter what our parents tried to teach us. Don't apologize to people who have no clue what Casey was doing out there. It's none of their business unless she hurt them.
MG42 January 15, 2013 at 02:54 AM
Joellen, it's bad customer service. They should serve when people are awake. Gestapo.
Joellen Hall January 15, 2013 at 02:59 AM
You're thinking of this from the eyes (hopefully) of a law abiding citizen, not a law breaker. You, nor I, have any idea what kind of person the warrant was being served on. Could be a meth lab they need to catch in the act and by surprise. Could be someone suspected of holding another person against their will. I do know enough about the kinds of things cops deal with to hold my judgment until I have better information. You won't think its "Gestapo" tactics one of these days when something like this may save you, or benefit you or someone you hold dear.
CSB January 16, 2013 at 12:48 AM
Thank you Joellen and Patti.
MG42 January 16, 2013 at 12:49 AM
Joellen, we don't know all the facts. And I'm certainly curious what fact pattern exists that justified a 3am raid on a Howard County resident. Seems over the top on its face.


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