405 Freeway

Off-Duty Fire Captain Who Saved Couple in Plane Crash Honored for Bravery

Captain John Meffert got out of his car and pulled the pilot and passenger to safety while the plane was still on fire

A fire captain who risked his own safety to save two people in a fiery plane wreck on a Southern California freeway last month was honored Thursday for his bravery.

Orange County Fire Authority Captain John Meffert avoided a wreck when the Cessna plane fell from the sky and crashed June 30 onto the San Diego (405) Freeway, clipping his car and bursting into flames.

He got out of his car and pulled the pilot and passenger to safety while the plane was still on fire. He stayed with them until other firefighters and paramedics arrived.

"His quick work definitely saved a life that day," said Greg McKeown, an Orange County Fire Authority division chief at a board of directors meeting.

Meffert, who's a captain at the agency's Avalon station, deflected the praise, saying, "it's just a pleasure to serve.

"It doesn't matter if we're on duty or off duty," he said.

The plane's pilot, Francis Pisano, 62, and his wife, Janan Pisano, 55, suffered spinal fractures and cuts.

In a statement after they got out of the hospital, Janan Pisano said, "Frank and I know that we are alive today because of the incredible and heroic acts of civilians and first responders who immediately rushed to our aid on the 405 freeway."

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