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Courageous Teen Is Hailed A Hero After He Pulls Mom And 3 Kids From Burning Car
Justin's heart sank when he saw the vehicle in flames. But without hesitation, he put himself in harm's way to save all their lives.
Elijah Chan
09.09.21

In a blink of an eye, five lives were changed by a single moment of humanity.

Three kids and a mother will never forget how a teenager didn’t hesitate to put himself in harm’s way just to save the lives of people he doesn’t even know.

Facebook - Waterbury Police Department
Source:
Facebook - Waterbury Police Department

Justin Gavin, an 18-year-old boy living in Connecticut, was on his way to a local Walgreens when he witnessed something terrifyingly unusual.

A small SUV drove past him and it was covered in flames. As the vehicle continued to drive down the road, drivers honked their horns and pedestrians waved at the mother to get her attention.

Flickr - Mike Mozart
Source:
Flickr - Mike Mozart

“I’m yelling, ‘Stop the car! Your car is on fire! Your car is on fire!'” Gavin recalled the story to CNN.

At the same time, the police department was receiving calls about a burning car and a woman trapped inside.

Facebook - Waterbury Police Department
Source:
Facebook - Waterbury Police Department

But instead of waiting for help to arrive, Gavin took it up himself to do the right thing.

He chased the car down the street once it came to a full stop and helped the mother out of the car. It was then when he noticed that there were kids in the backseat. He asked the eldest child, 9, to unbuckle her younger siblings, aged 4 and 1, so he could pull them out.

Facebook - Waterbury Police Department
Source:
Facebook - Waterbury Police Department

“It kind of got scary because I didn’t know whether I was going to be able to get everyone out in time,” he shared to CNN. “And luckily, I did.”

Luckily for everyone, they avoided a situation that could’ve ended in tragedy.

The mother credited Gavin for saving her and her kids.

To recognize his heroic efforts, the local police department bestowed the teenager with a “challenge coin”. The coin is usually given to officers who demonstrate exemplary bravery in the face of danger.

Flickr - Brandon Giesbrecht
Source:
Flickr - Brandon Giesbrecht

“Justin showed the country we need each other and need to engage in selfless acts,” Waterbury Chief of Police Fernando Spagnolo told TODAY Parents. “Actions like his show how we, as a society, get through social unrest with an open heart and an open mind. Justin’s getting the attention he deserves, and we want more of this; what he did was so awesome.”

Gavin’s community celebrated his heroism as well.

Facebook - Waterbury Police Department
Source:
Facebook - Waterbury Police Department

The teenager said he has received a lot of support from people. While he admitted that the attention he has been receiving was flattering, he was also quick to say that he’s not a hero.

“Some people think teens are just lazy, but that’s not true,” Gavin said to TODAY Parents. “I wouldn’t consider myself a hero; I’d just want someone to help me if I was in that situation and that’s why I ran to the car…This was really about someone else’s well-being, not mine.”

Gavin hopes to meet the family he saved on that day and Spagnolo is in the process of making it happen.

Facebook - Waterbury Police Department
Source:
Facebook - Waterbury Police Department

The whole event changed the family’s life and Gavin’s, and through all the dangers they endured, the teenager walked away with a very important lesson.

“It made me realize life is short,” Gavin told CNN.

In turn, Gavin has taught us how we can make a difference in a life ruled by absolute impermanence – that we should always help each other out, especially in times of need.

Facebook - Waterbury Police Department
Source:
Facebook - Waterbury Police Department

Watch the video below to see more on this story of heroism!

Please SHARE this with your friends and family.

September 9th 2020 – Chief Fernando Spagnolo thanks Justin Gavin (age 18) for helping to save a mother and her three children from a burning car.Great job Justin!

Posted by Waterbury Police Department on Wednesday, September 9, 2020

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By Elijah Chan
hi@sbly.com
Elijah Chan is a contributor at SBLY Media.
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