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Hero is a word that gets bandied around a little too loosely and too often. But in the case of Middlefield's resident trooper, Thomas Topulos, the description is a good fit.

Mr. Topulos was in his cruiser and headed north on Baileyville Road in Middlefield last Tuesday when, coming from the opposite direction, he encountered a dump truck towing a trailer with a tractor aboard. As the truck went by, the driver, Southington contractor Vincent McCabe, shouted that his vehicle had lost its brakes and he was unable to stop.

Luckily, Mr. Topulos got the message. He made a quick U-turn and caught up to the truck. Both vehicles were now side by side and southbound. They were also headed toward the intersection with Main Street, one of the busiest roads in Middlefield. Traffic on Main Street often backs up to make the turn onto Baileyville, raising the odds of a crash.

Worse, it was a little after 5 p.m. -- rush hour.

At that point, according to a state police spokesman, Mr. Topulos knew he had to make a decision. He accelerated, pulled his cruiser in front of the truck and slowed, allowing the truck to bump the rear of the car several times to reduce its speed.

Then, as the two vehicles approached Main Street, they veered to the left off the road. They came to a stop along a fence in the yard of a home at 545 Main St. -- right near the corner of Baileyville Road.

Fortunately, Mr. Topulos sustained only minor injuries. He was treated at Middlesex Hospital and released. Mr. McCabe was unhurt. And despite a few dents in the police cruiser and some damage to a stockade fence, damage was minor.

This entire episode unfolded along a 2,000-foot stretch of Baileyville Road. Mr. Topulos' quick thinking may well have saved others from injury -- even tragedy. He is, hands-down, a hero.

May 24, 2005
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