When homeless veteran Freddie Finkley spotted an SUV on fire in Pensacola, Florida, he knew immediately that he needed to help.
The 56-year-old Pensacola native and U.S. Army veteran pulled the driver out from the burning vehicle, saving a stranger’s life while risking his own in the process.
It was incredibly lucky that he had been in the right place at the right time.
The SUV had caught fire after a head-on crash. The driver of the SUV, Eric Lopez, 34, became trapped in his car and was unable to escape from the flames.
Veteran Freddie, who has lived on the streets for 5 years, was standing near an intersection with his girlfriend Stephanie when the car came past him.
At first, he didn’t think that the driver was in trouble- but he soon realised that the car was swerivng out of control.
“I saw it weaving, but everybody does that sometimes, you know, when they are trying to go around a car or something,” he told Pensacola News Journal. “So I turned back around.”
“I turned around again, and he hit a big pickup truck head on. Boom!” Finkley recalled. “Then I ran onto the bridge. Then the car started to catch on fire, and then the flames were coming through the dashboard.”4
As flames came through the dashboard, Freddie made the heroic decision to reach through and pull out Eric.
It wasn’t going to be easy to get him out, but together with another passerby, the pair were able to free Eric from the car wreck.
Once he was on the side of the road, it became clear how much strain the crash had put Eric’s body under. He began to have a seizure, though thankfully, he was given first aid by a retired EMT who just happened to be passing by, until the ambulance arrived.
Freddie’s girlfriend reflected on how terrifying the ordeal had been.
“I was crying the whole time,” she said. “I heard him hit the bridge. I saw Freddie run down there and try to pull him out and him trying to get him out. I heard the guy telling Freddie that he didn’t want to get out. I started crying, and I just kept crying and telling Freddie, ‘Get him out! I don’t care if he don’t want to get out. Please just get him out.'”
Luckily, it wasn’t long until an ambulance arrived on the scene, and Eric was taken to hospital. He spent some time in intensive care, but has thankfully recovered from the worst of his injuries.
Accroding to Eric’s grandma, he has no memory of the crash. He simply remembers getting in his car and getting ready to start driving.
But while he might have no memory of Freddie, he’s incredibly grateful for the man who saved his life.
“I asked Eric if he had anything he wanted to say to Freddie. He said, ‘I just want to thank him. But how do you thank someone who saved your life? I am just so grateful to him. What can I say to him, Nanna? I would just hug him. I just don’t have the words to say to him to make him truly understand the depth of my gratitude,'” Freddie’s grandma said.
Freddie is a true hero! Watch his interview below.
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