Deputies praised as heroes for car fire rescue

Posted at 8:46 AM, Apr 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-05 20:33:30-04

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — Two Charlotte County deputies are being praised by their department for their life-saving actions during a weekend car fire.

DFCs Garrett Parrish and Bryant Ovalles Vasquez responded to a crash in the Riverwood community Saturday morning. 911 callers reported flames exceeding five feet high and the sounds of a man screaming for help.

According to Deputy Parrish, he was driving across a bridge when he had received the call; he said he happened to be the closest guy to the location.

"When I get out of my car I can hear him yelling for me 'hey I’m on fire I need help'.
I get over there and he is lodged in the car pretty good – his seat belt was wrapped around his neck and shoulder; I tried to get that off of him it wasn’t working."

Deputy Garrett Parrish

Parrish and Vasquez's dashcam captured them helping free the man from the burning car. They make frequent trips to and from the car, the fire is described as "unbearable." They managed to free the man, who was caught in his seat belt, with the aid of a pocketknife and a good Samaritan.

"If you watch the dash cam footage you can watch the flames just get bigger and bigger while I stand there and go ‘hm I can’t get him out’."
Deputy Garrett Parrish

Deputy Parrish said that in that he reached back for his pocket knife and he then realized he can't cut his seat belt so he ran back for a fire extinguisher as Vasquez reportedly continued to try to get the driver out of the car.

"I one-handed the fire extinguisher and dislodged him with the other hand and I got him out probably at the time the fire extinguisher ran out there was no way I would have got him without the fire extinguisher."
Deputy Parrish

Deputy Parrish said that within 15-20 seconds of getting the man out of his car, his passenger seat was basically charcoal.

“You truly never know what the night will hold,” said Sheriff Bill Prummell in a blog post describing the incident. “The job of a deputy is to act bravely in the face of danger, regardless of what lies ahead. These young men did just that."

The man was taken to a nearby hospital. At last check, he was in critical condition but expected to survive his injuries.

"If you are in this position, you don’t take this job if you don’t have problems putting yourself in harm's way for somebody else you, just don’t, and if you did you did it for the wrong reasons. In that case, I don’t know that guy, don’t know anything about him, don’t care he was in trouble."