Caught on Camera: 2 Charlotte County deputies, good Samaritan save man from burning car

Published: April 5, 2022 8:20 AM EDT
Updated: April 5, 2022 11:06 PM EDT

A pair of Charlotte County deputies and a good Samaritan were seen in a dashcam video saving a man trapped inside a burning car early Saturday morning.

Their bravery is unmatched. The deputies and one good Samaritan did what most do not; run toward danger.

WINK News spoke with one of the deputies who pulled the man from the burning car, but he doesn’t believe his life-saving efforts compare him to superman or batman. For him, it’s all just a part of the job.

From the second Charlotte County Deputy First Class Garrett Parrish pulls up on the scene, he thinks quickly, acts faster, and runs toward the flames.

“I wasn’t worried about whether or not I’d be able to get him out… I was worried about just getting him out of the car,” said Deputy Parrish. “When I get out of my car I can hear him yelling for me. You know, hey I’m on fire, I need help.”

Parrish bolted out of his car to save the man who was trapped in a growing ball of fire.

“So I get over there and he’s lodged in the car pretty good. He’s got his seatbelt wrapped around his neck and shoulder, I tried getting that off of him but it wasn’t working and while I’m standing there it just keeps getting hotter, there’s like no way to describe it,” said Parrish.

The fire was so hot that it scorched some of his hair off. “I was like oh, oh okay that’s not good. I’m just happy I shaved my head a few days prior,” said Parrish.

He can add a touch of humor now because that man will live to tell the tale. Thanks to Deputy Parish, Deputy Bryant Vasquez, a good Samaritan, a fire extinguisher and a pocket knife.

DFC Bryant Ovalles Vasquez. Credit: Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office
DFC Garrett Parrish. Credit: Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“His whole right side was engulfed in fire. I one-handed the fire extinguisher and had to dislodge him with the other hand and I got him out probably about the time the fire extinguisher ran out,” said Parrish.

They pulled out this man from the flames, which seconds later could have killed him.

“Once I got him out of the car I would say within 15/20 seconds, that whole driver side seat was basically charcoal,” said Parrish.

Those 15-20 seconds would make for a very different story. Instead, this is a life scarred instead of a life gone. “Everything you do in life leaves a chip on you, in his case he got a pretty big chip taken out of him,” said Parrish.

“If I had to be there four minutes sooner, it would’ve been a difference. He might not have been on fire when I got to him. If I’ve been there five minutes later and nobody else had been there, we would probably be having a very different press conference.”

Parrish saved the life of the man in the car but if you ask him if he thinks he’s a hero, “I don’t like to hear a title personally; I have no doubt that any of us that walked onto that scene would’ve done the same thing that I did,” said Parrish.

So, how do you stay safe if you find yourself scary situation like this one? Captian Raymond Rodriguez of the Fort Myers Fire Department did share some tips.

“Try to eliminate the emotions in a situation like this. And just kind of think, take a second. Think about what you have, you know, at your disposal and use it to the best of your ability at that… that moment,” Rodriguez said.

He also recommends having an escape tool in the car. “A lot of these tools have seatbelt cutters on them, they also have window punches, where you can go ahead and break glass if needed, it allows you the opportunity to thicken quickly, and it’s within him, you know, your hands reach to go ahead and cut yourself out of that situation and begin the removal process,” said Rodriguez. He says you can buy these tools for between $10 and $15.

Rodriguez also warned that drivers should have their seatbelts on properly.

Parrish said you don’t take this job if you have a problem with putting yourself in harm’s way.

The man is who was in the car is in the hospital in critical condition, but he is expected to survive.