JPSO sergeant honored for rescuing hit-and-run victim from canal

METAIRIE, La. -- A sergeant with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office didn't think twice this week before jumping into a canal near Grace King High School to rescue a 79-year-old woman whose vehicle had plunged into the water.

Sgt. Billy Matranga was honored today with the Distinguished Service Award for saving the woman after a hit-and-run crash sent her into the canal.

Matranga was on duty at Grace King High School Wednesday afternoon when he heard a loud noise, followed by a large splash from the drainage canal nearby.

He saw a vehicle partially submerged in the water with the driver, a 79-year-old woman, trapped inside.

Sergeant Matranga ran to the driver’s aid, entering into the canal still in full gear. He climbed onto the vehicle and smashed through the windshield, but the vehicle started listing to one side. Fearing the vehicle would flip, he went to the other side and was able to enter the vehicle through a broken window on the passenger side.

He made contact with the victim of the crash, a 79-year-old female, and quickly checked her for injuries. She was conscious but stunned, and he decided to get her out of the vehicle before the conditions worsened.

He was able to pull her to safety through the passenger side of the vehicle and pass her to others who stopped to help.

"Sergeant Matranga’s actions were in keeping with the highest standards of professionalism and concern for the citizens of Jefferson Parish. His response likely prevented the victim from any further harm, and was done without thought for his own safety," Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joe Lopinto said.