Cop rescues worker hit by car as he fled gas-plant explosion

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TAVARES, Fla. —

A man running from a propane facility explosion in Tavares Monday night ran into the path of an oncoming vehicle and was struck, according to Florida Highway Patrol troopers.

Troopers said Kaghy Sam, 29, of Leesburg, was running from the explosion when he stepped in front of an SUV driven by Gene Batson, 72, of Mount Dora.

Batson was traveling east on County Road 448 in the area of County Road 561 when Sam ran from a driveway and was struck.

A trooper who was called to the scene found Sam in the road and pulled him to safety.

Tavares police Cpl. Mike Woods was ordered to set up a roadblock near the plant when an alert came over the radio that a victim had been struck by a car just outside the gate.

"Sure enough, I saw the gentleman lying on the shoulder of the road. I pulled up and used my car as a buffer between the explosions and where we were," said Woods. "(It was) basically like a battle zone. Propane tanks were landing all around us; the hot, molten steel-like shrapnel was whizzing by."

One tank slammed the fender of Woods' police SUV as he picked up Sam and put him in the truck.

After the accident, Sam was flown to Ocala Regional Medical Center, where his wife is at his side.

"He's a really respectable guy. He seems really family oriented and a Christian-oriented guy," said Sam's neighbor, Cordell Brown.

Sam's two small children and sister-in-law were home in the family's Leesburg apartment Tuesday afternoon waiting for word on his condition.

Sam's sister-in-law said he is a good father.

Brown said Sam has worked at Blue Rhino for about two years.

"I hope he's all right. I pray for his family. My heart goes out to his family," said Brown.

Troopers said that no charges will be filed in the incident.