This week a Connecticut teen is being applauded for his heroism after he saved a family of four whose car caught on fire.
According to CNN, on September 9, Justin Gavin was walking down the street when he spotted an SUV on fire. The Waterbury Police Department later confirmed via a Facebook post they’d received multiple calls that afternoon describing a woman trapped inside a burning vehicle.
“I’m yelling, ‘Stop the car! Your car is on fire! Your car is on fire!’” Gavin recalled when speaking to reporters.
Given that first responders had yet to arrive at the scene, the 18-year-old took it upon himself to run to the vehicle and help the woman to escape.
“I just felt like if I was in that situation, I would want somebody to help me out,” he continued. “I guess my instincts took over.”
Once the woman was safe that’s when the young man realized, to his horror, that there were also three children inside the car, as it was quickly becoming engulfed in flames.
“As the flames grew larger, Justin pulled all three of the kids from the car, including a 1-year-old baby in a car seat,” Captain Michael DaSilva explained in a video on the department’s Facebook page. The kids ranged were 1, 4, and 9, police said.
Gavin freed two of the woman’s children from the backseat of the SUV right before the entire vehicle went up in flames.
“It kind of got scary because I didn’t know whether I was going to be able to get everyone out in time,” he told CNN. “And luckily, I did.”
Later that day, Police Chief Fernando Spagnolo presented him with a challenge coin which is typically only given to officers who demonstrate an act of bravery.
“One of the things I do to recognize people’s heroic feats or excellent work, I provide them with what’s called a challenge coin,” Spagnolo can be seen telling the teen in the department’s Facebook video. “It’s just to acknowledge this heroic act that you conducted today, and just a token of my appreciation for you being a great member of this community.”
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