An 18-year-old teenager from Connecticut is being hailed as a modern day hero for saving a woman and her three children from a burning SUV.
On September 9, the Waterbury Police Department received multiple calls describing a woman and children trapped inside a burning vehicle. Justin Gavin was out walking when he saw the vehicle with children inside.
Gavin told CNN, “I’m yelling stop the car! Your car is on fire! Your car is on fire! But the mother couldn’t stop.”
Gavin says he didn’t have time to think and fell into action. He chased down the burning car to help the family escape.
“I just felt like if I was in that situation, I would want somebody to help me out,” Gavin said. “I guess my instincts took over.”
Gavin finally reached the vehicle, opened the car door and helped the mother out of the driver’s seat first. By this time, the flames grew larger, and he pulled the three children in the back seat to safety, including a 4, 9, and 1-year-old, who was in a car seat.
Gavin, the car was engulfed by flames moments later.
“It kind of got scary because I didn’t know whether I was going to be able to get everyone out in time. And luckily, I did,” Gavin said.
Waterbury Police Department Chief Fernando Spagnolo said the mother credits the teen with saving her family’s life.
The police department honored Justin Gavin to acknowledge his courageous act. Chief Spagnolo awarded the teenager with a “challenge coin” at the station.
“I hope that when you have that coin it just reminds you of this day and you can reflect back on all the good that came out of this for you and that family that you saved,” said Spagnolo.
Gavin said the experience was inspiring and changed his perspective of the police.
“It made me realize life is short,” Gavin was quoted in the CNN report.