RAYMOND — Officer Cory Blancato was on a routine patrol near Exit 5 in Raymond when the dispatcher’s voice came across the radio just before 1:30 a.m. last Nov. 9. A mobile home at 37 Regina Ave. was ablaze.
Blancato got there fast.
“Flames were coming from underneath the house, toward the backside, and several neighbors were trying to get in,” he said.
Blancato, an Army National Guard veteran, joined the effort to break down the door, but it seemed to be blocked. He ran to a side door.
“At that point, I wasn’t really thinking about myself. Everyone at the scene was convinced he was inside, so I was just trying to find a way to get in there,” he said. “I broke through the door, but I was knocked down by the heat and the smoke, and I realized there was nothing more I could do at that point. The fire marshal said if I had made it into the house, I wouldn’t have made it out either.”
Blancato was sent to Exeter Hospital, but returned to the scene immediately after being released.
William Duguay, 56, died in the fire. The next month, Blancato received a Certificate of Recognition from the Raymond Board of Selectmen and a Letter of Merit from Raymond Police Chief David Salois for his rescue attempt.
“Without hesitation you placed yourself in harm’s way in an attempt to save a fellow human,” wrote Salois. “Your professionalism and dedication are commendable.”
Salois said Blancato, one of the department’s field training officers, is a true role model.
“He’s definitely an example of what an officer should be today,” Salois said. “He thinks very clearly, is always on the spot and is responsible and down-to-earth.”
In early March, Blancato assisted Raymond Fire Lt. Adam Brackett in saving a dog that had fallen through the ice on the Lamprey River. And in July 2011, Blancato was off duty and in Portsmouth when he witnessed a man being attacked by four people.
“I was just out for the night when a fight began inside one of the bars and then it moved outside. This guy got jumped by two males, and then two females jumped in and started attacking him, too,” said Blancato. “I wasn’t going to sit back and watch the poor kid get beat up by four people, so I stepped in and broke it up.”
The victim was Steven Bohn, an Afghanistan war veteran and Purple Heart recipient.
He credited Blancato with saving his life.
“He deserves a medal. If I was rich, I’d give him everything,” Bohn told the Union Leader in the days following the attack. “Honestly, I’d probably be dead if it wasn’t for him.”
Indeed, Blancato often seems to be in the right place at the right time. He doesn’t see it that way, however.
“It’s really all just part of doing my job,” he said. “Basically, it’s being in the right place at the wrong time.”
The Union Leader Hero Awards honor New Hampshire residents who have risked their lives in the previous year to save or attempt to save the life of another person.
The program is sponsored by Citizens Bank and presented by the New Hampshire Union Leader.
Recipients of the 2014 Union Leader Hero Awards will be honored at a ceremony at 3 p.m. May 13 at the State House in Concord. The event is free and open to the public, but an RSVP is requested.
For more information on the program or ceremony, contact Community Relations Manager Shannon Sullivan at 206-7833 or firstname.lastname@example.org.