• Off-duty firefighter falls off bridge, into St. John's River while rescuing woman from fiery crash

    By: Cierra Putman


    BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. - An off-duty firefighter fell off a bridge and into the St. John’s River while rescuing a woman from a fiery crash. 

    Orange County Fire Rescue Lt. John McNally said he’s lucky he survived plummeting nearly 40 feet down into the river. 

    He said he was heading to work about 6:40 a.m. Friday when he saw the crash. 

    I saw one vehicle scrape a concrete barrier and then burst into flames,” he said. 

    According to a report, Zachary Daniels, 30, crashed into Rhonda Nagy, 54, on State Road 528 causing her vehicle to catch fire. 

    McNally said he pulled on his gear and he and Daniels rushed to help Nagy. 

    He said her door was jammed against the bridge. He put one foot over the barrier hoping to pull her to safety, but he fell over the bridge.

    WATCH: Firefighter describes falling off bridge during rescue

    “About halfway down, I realized I was falling and I just braced myself to hit the pavement,” he said. “I was so relieved to hit the water.”

    He and Daniels, who also fell in, swam to safety. 

    “He (Daniels) deserves more credit than I do because I’m trained for this,” McNally said. 

    McNally said he was surprised and grateful that everyone survived. 

    “Miraculously, no injuries. I can just equate it to pure luck,” he said. “It’s unbelievable. It’s astonishing.” 

    Florida Highway Patrol troopers said the crash remains under investigation and charges are pending.

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