Orange County

'These are my heroes’: Man reunites with deputies who saved him from burning car

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Deputies Robert Ricks and Marco Ruiz were near the end of their 12-hour shift earlier this month.

It was 4:30 a.m., and they heard a crash.

“Based on the noise, you could tell it was more than just your average crash,” Ricks said. “It was probably pretty severe.”

That’s when Ruiz jumped in the patrol car and turned its lights on. They started driving slowly.

“As we were driving, I see the guardrail missing,” Ruiz said.

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A car had run off the road and into a swampy area more than 20 feet off Alafaya Trail. They saw the taillights, the smoke -- and then the car, flipped on its side and on fire.

They made their way to their car and broke out the windows. The man inside was not responding. The fire was getting bigger. A fire extinguisher “did absolutely nothing.”

“That’s when I told Marco, pretty much, that we had to hurry up,” Ricks said.

Both deputies began pulling on the man while also keeping an eye on the fire.

“There’s no way I’m going to watch somebody get burned alive in front of me,” Ricks said. “That’s just not an option.”

Orange County Fire Rescue arrived on scene and helped the deputies free the man, and drag him to safety.

“He grabbed me and I was like, ‘We got to go,’” Ruiz said. “And he looked at me. I was like, ‘No, we got to go now.’"

On Wednesday the man who was rescued, Christopher Tossas, reunited with those who saved his life.

“We could watch movies and see superheroes all the time, and these are my heroes,” Tossas said.

Tossas was taken to the hospital with a concussion and a few scrapes, but has no recollection of the crash.

“I’m blessed to be here, lucky to be alive,” Tossas said. “Lucky to be able to live my life and get to see my kids.”

Tossas said he still has no recollection of the crash.

Watch body camera footage of the dramatic rescue below:

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