After they were engaged in a terrible highway incident, a Florida firefighter took action to save his girlfriend’s life.
According to ABC affiliate WPLG, Bryan Aparicio, a firefighter with Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue, and his girlfriend Su were in an Uber on Interstate 95 in Delray Beach on Tuesday afternoon when a car drove into a petroleum tanker’s lane.
The tanker then flipped over and caught fire.
The couple’s Uber driver slammed a median wall while attempting to escape the collision, according to the Miami Herald.
“The vehicle was quickly halted and instantly overwhelmed with flames,” Aparicio’s coworkers from Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport wrote on the couple’s GoFundMe page.
According to Jason Smith, president of the Broward County Professional Firefighters and Paramedics Association, International Association of Firefighters Local 4321, the couple was traveling north for what was meant to be a leisurely cruise at the time of the disaster.
According to Smith, after waking up inside the Uber, Aparicio proceeded to open his door and was “greeted by a whole wall of fire.”
Then he attempted the door next to his girlfriend’s, which was blocked by a barrier wall.
“He doesn’t remember this, but he ends up busting out a window out of the back seat so they can get out,” Smith said. He heard his girlfriend screaming as he exited the van and realized she wasn’t with him.
He immediately returned inside with his hands and head to grab her and pull her to safety. He burned his face, hands, arms, and legs as a result.
Smith told the Miami Herald, “It happened in a split second.”
“So, in the midst of all that flames, he simply went ahead and sacrificed practically everything that he had of his life to ensure that she could get out,” Smith added. “He’s a true hero.”
According to the Herald, the pair was brought to the hospital in critical condition with significant burn injuries.
On GoFundMe, colleagues noted that “Bryan received second and third-degree burns,” while his girlfriend “suffered second and third-degree burns on both of her legs and hands.”
According to Smith, the firefighter is currently “in high spirits” and has already undergone one procedure, whereas his girlfriend will require surgery.
“He’s fortunate to have this career,” Smith adds, “but his girlfriend does not have the same perks.” “He’ll try to assist her with everything she need.”
According to Delray Beach Fire Rescue, “billowing smoke could be seen for miles” as a result of the accident, and the highway was “closed for hours” as firefighters worked to “put out the large fire, as well as a secondary fire ignited by fuel from the tanker that traveled under the highway, through a storm drain, and ignited on the west side of the southbound lanes.”
The Florida Highway Patrol, which did not immediately reply to a request for comment, is investigating the crash and fire.
With a long road to recovery ahead of them, the firefighter’s coworkers at the station created a GoFundMe page to raise funds for the couple’s medical needs.
As of Thursday afternoon, the page had raised more than $51,000, or slightly more than half of its target.
“Please keep them in your prayers,” Broward County Professional Firefighters and Paramedics said on social media, adding a link to the fundraiser.