ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – A man rescued from a burning car that had veered off the roadway was reunited with the two Orange County sheriff's deputies on Wednesday who saved his life.
Christopher Tossas said he was on his way to work around 4:30 a.m. Jan. 10 when, for an unknown reason, he lost control and veered off the road along Alafaya Trail and into a swampy area.
Deputies Robert Ricks and Marco Ruiz were nearby and heard loud screeching indicative of a car crash but they couldn’t immediately find the scene.
“Based on the noise, you could tell it was more than just your average crash. It was probably something pretty severe,” Ricks said.
Both men knew they had to act fast.
“I jumped in my patrol car and I turned my lights on and I start just driving slowly and as we’re driving I see the guard rail missing,” Ruiz said.
Although the area was thick with brush, the first responders could see tail lights and smoke, so they ran the 20 feet to where the car was flipped on its side to find Tossas unconscious, trapped behind the wheel.
Ricks and Ruiz were smashing the vehicle’s windows to try to rescue Tossas when they noticed a car seat.
“We were trying to make sure there wasn’t a small child there or the child was pinned under him,” Ruiz said.
Tossas came to and told the rescuers that he was alone in the car but the smoke was growing thicker and he was still stuck.
“Marco and I knew we had to act a little bit quicker,” Ricks said.
Ricks used a fire extinguisher to try to quell the flames while Ruiz worked as hard as he could to free Tossas before the fire spread.
“Dude, your car’s on fire you gotta get out of here,” Ruiz told Tossas.
With bright orange flames still coming from the engine and Tossas still struggling to escape, Orange County Fire Rescue arrived and together with the deputies, they freed Tossas.
“I think we all saved his life,” Ruiz said.
To this day, Tossas doesn’t remember the crash or the rescue. He suffered a concussion and some other minor injuries.
“I knew that I was alive. I knew that I was able to move even though I was in pain. I knew that I could feel things and I knew that I was awake,” Tossas said.
He said he’s lucky he got to return home to his family.
“Those are my angels. Those are the people that were able to respond quickly. My wife still has a husband that she gets to talk to every day and it’s because of them and the way they reacted. I appreciate it so much,” Tossas said.