Man aids couple in burning car, speaks about helping others

NORTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - A good Samaritan who heard an explosion at a gas station and risked his life to save two strangers is speaking out about his drive to help. It’s the sort of selfless act that had also put him in the news nearly two decades ago.

An SUV flipped over and caught fire after smashing into a gas pump at a Valero station in Northwest Miami-Dade, Sunday, trapping a man and woman inside.

Cellphone video captured the scene and witnesses worried that the gas station could blow at any moment. “I saw the truck, and the fire,” said witness Denine Rucker. “I thought all the pumps were gonna blow up.”

That’s when a very brave group, including Herbert Tarvin, ran into the danger. “I’m like, ‘Hey, let’s get her out. Let’s get her out. You coming next. Let’s get her out.’ To me she was unconscious. She couldn’t even move,” Tarvin said. “A lot of people trying to get her out, but the window was so small; [The SUV] was flipped over.”

The driver got out on his own, but the passenger was stuck.

A woman in the cellphone video could be heard screaming for those helping to hurry. “Hurry. A woman. Oh, my God. Hurry up!” she said.

Tarvin and the group managed to get the passenger out of the burning car. “When I see that, that is not going to be on my conscious. I have to go do something,” Tarvin said. “I hope other people, they get rewarded for that, too, but not only me. It’s just the right thing to do.”

This isn’t the first time Tarvin, who works at a nearby restaurant, was put in the spotlight for doing the right thing. Back in 1997, he made national headlines as an 11-year-old boy when he returned 85 cents he took from a Brinks truck that rolled over in Overtown.

It even earned him and his class a free trip to Walt Disney World.

“I just did it because it was the right thing to do,” he said as an 11-year-old. “My teacher gave me a choice to do what I was supposed to do, so I did the right thing, and then I turned the money in, and it got me all this attention.”

Nineteen years later, Tarvin continues to do the right thing. “You never leave a person stranded. Really. You have got to always do the right thing,” he said, “and that should be the lesson. That was the lesson to me.”

It’s a lesson he now shares with his daughter. More than anything, Tarvin said, he is just relieved the man and woman in the car will be OK. “I hope this shows people they should step up and help each other,” he said.

Miami-Dade Police are investigating this incident, but it’s unclear exactly how the car ended up speeding into the gas station.

Witnesses were relieved to later learn someone pulled the emergency shut-off, and that could be why there wasn’t a bigger explosion.

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