TSA employee called a hero after saving woman | News
Tampa, Florida -- The fast actions of a Tampa International Airport employee during his Wednesday morning commute have several people calling him a hero, as he helped save a woman in danger.
"[He] came to work with blood and mud on his clothing. Didn't want me to say anything, but I have to. He's a hero," explained Sari Koshetz of TSA Public Affairs in an email.
In an interview with 10 News, Jim Flaherty, the TSA's Deputy Assistant Federal Security Director for Screening, said he driving to work around 5 a.m. on Gunn Highway when a car sped past him.
Just a few minutes later, Jim said he saw that same car had crashed and was on fire in the woods alongside the road.
"When I saw her off in the woods, I just thought I had to get her out of the car if I could," Flaherty told 10 News.
He and another man stopped on the side of the road and ran to the wreckage where they found the 23-year-old female driver pinned down and screaming that she thought her leg was broken.
At first Flaherty said he was afraid to move her but when, "I saw flames licking out of the side of the car we knew we had to get her out of there".
Since the driver's door was lodged into a tree, Flaherty said the other man jumped over the back seat and freed her leg and they pulled her out through the passenger's side and carried her to safety just moments before the entire car went up in flames.
Firefighters and Hillsborough County deputies responded and transported the woman to St. Joseph's Hospital.
"Sometimes our mission to protect the public extends into our off hours," said FSD Gary Milano of Jim Flaherty. "He's a hero for saving that young woman's life."
Koshetz added that this was not the first time Flaherty has risked his own life to protect that of another. She said that in addition to being a veteran of the Army, Flaherty was an NYC police officer and detective for 20 years.