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Naples firefighters out on hunting trip save man from burning car

A Greater Naples firefighter says he was at the right place at the right time after coming across a ravaging car fire. He jumped into action, used his training and saved the driver. It all happened during a hunting trip on the east coast of the state.

When firefighter Lt. Robert Walczak with Greater Naples Fire Rescue District isn’t fighting fire, he likes to hunt. Last Saturday, he invited two old buddies from the station on a whim.

“For some odd reason we spent the day together,” Walczak said. “We hadn’t gone hunting together in three years?”

Hours into an unfruitful venture, it seemed there was a reason.

“So we were actually leaving,” Walczak said. “Another hunter came back and said there was a rollover, and he believes someone is dead in the vehicle.”

The driver was alive but badly injured and trapped inside a car on fire along U.S. Route 27 in Palm Beach County. Little did anyone know, the three duck hunters were Naples firefighters.

“It happened so quickly,” Walczak said. “We moved so quickly.”

And it’s a very good thing they did.

“There’s no cities or towns within probably twenty miles,” Walczak said.

Opening the window with a prybar, Naples’ finest found a man in bad shape.

“I thought he had an open compound fracture to the leg,” Walczak said. “I could see bone.”

The men got the crash victim out of the car and rushed him away from it within seconds of it being completely torched.

“Probably a minute to two minutes max.,” Walczak said.

Three buddies, who couldn’t believe they’d gotten together after a long time, couldn’t believe they were in exactly the right place at the right time to save a man’s life, who is expected to recover.

“I think it was being together that day,” Walczak said. “And I think there was a reason we were there, and a reason for that gentlemen.”

Reporter:Sydney Persing
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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