Heroic act saves Bay area driver's life

- A Bay area man may be lucky to be alive after crashing his car Sunday night on I-4. The impact left him injured and his truck on fire.

This story could have had a tragic ending, of not for three drivers who jumped into action.

In seconds, Nick DeRosa became a hero.

"I saw him hit the guard rail and I saw the car slide across the guard rail," DeRosa said.

DeRosa was nearing the McIntosh Road exit Sunday night, but after witnessing the crash, he knew he wasn't headed home.

"I saw white sparks shooting out from underneath the vehicle. I was thinking, 'okay, oil and gas. Something is going to go up,'" DeRosa recalled.

He and two other men pulled over. With first responders yet to arrive, his training in fighting fires from Navy boot camp kicked in. The men ran full-speed toward the burning vehicle, aware it could explode any minute.

"We tried to open the door," DeRosa said. "The door was locked. The driver was obviously unconscious and we couldn't get the door open. The guy just smashed the window in. We unbuckled the seat belt and pulled the guy out through the window. One guy grabbed his legs and we both grabbed his arms and pulled him around."

Seconds later, there was no doubt they'd just saved a stranger's life.

"All of a sudden, we all heard a hiss from the car and we all looked up and that is when the car just exploded," DeRosa said.

The driver, Michael Kennedy was taken to Lakeland Regional Hospital with non life-threatening injuries.

DeRosa snapped a blurry picture of the smoking car as he left the scene.

"I didn't even think about it until I was driving away," DeRosa said.

In today's cell phone video-driven world, this man's first instinct was not to hit record, but to help.

"I don't regret it. I would absolutely do it again," DeRosa said. "I want to spread the message that if you see something, you have to do something. It really is a moral code. You have to do it."

Derosa said the driver's wife contacted him Monday to say thank you for what he and the other men did.

Florida Highway Patrol said alcohol was a factor in the crash. Charges against Kennedy are pending.

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