Everyday Heroes

Teen Saves Family Of Four From Burning Car

The experience changed his life - now he wants to be a first responder!


If you had the chance to save someone's life, even if it meant putting yours in danger, would you do it?

Teenager Justin Gavin was forced to answer this question, and quickly, when he saw a car on fire roll to a stop in front of him near his home in Waterbury, CT.

When Gavin noticed a mother and her three children were trapped inside the car, he rushed toward them and quickly got them all out and away from the fire. Jaylah, Ellie and Isaiah, ages 9, 4 and 1 were stuck inside with their mother, Latrisha Chambers, when she pulled over the SUV.

"I felt helpless," Chambers told NBC Connecticut. "All I could do is pray. I was screaming for help."

Latrisha Chambers and her three children were in their car when it caught fire. Screenshot: NBC CT

Gavin, who had just gotten off a bus nearby, didn't hesitate to offer his help.

"As I saw the car coming, I saw the little kids in the back, I kept yelling, the car's on fire. The car's on fire," he said.

Gavin, who admitted he has never seen a car on fire before and was a bit afraid, pulled all of the children out of the car, including one-year-old Isaiah who was strapped in a car seat.

Thankfully, Gavin got the family out of the car before the flames got higher. Screenshot: NBC CT

"Life is too short, so I thought if it was me in that situation, I would want someone to help me," the 18-year-old said. "So I definitely did what I can do."

After the rescue, Gavin was honored by Police Chief Fernando Spagnolo of the Waterbury Police Department. Along with praising the young man's heroic efforts, Spagnolo presented Gavin with a challenge coin, one of the city's highest honors.

"It's just to acknowledge this heroic act that you conducted today and just a token of my appreciation for you being a great member of this community," Spagnolo said in a video that was posted to the department's Facebook page. "I appreciate it. Thank you very much,"

Gavin was all smiles when he received the award and Spagnolo's words really seemed to hit home.

Gavin dropped out of high school last year, but he said the experience of rescuing the family has inspired him to go back to school and work toward becoming a first responder.

Seeing the car, it's frightening to think what could have happened without Gavin's quick action.Waterbury Police Department/Facebook

"I probably most likely will join the police force or become a firefighter," he said. "Because after yesterday, I feel like there's more people that can be helped."

What an inspiring story! We're sure Gavin will make an incredible first responder – he's obviously a natural!

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