With a superhero’s sense of timing, Rui Gouveia pulled three people from a car wreck moments before the crashed vehicle exploded.
The 41-year-old corrections officer from Fairhaven, Massachusetts was heading to work on October 7 when a car sped past him in the wrong lane.
“What went through my mind was, ‘Oh my God, they’re gonna crash they’re gonna crash,'” recalled Gouveia.
Sure enough, the 2003 Chevy Malibu veered off the road, and crashed into a tree.
“When it hit the tree, it went up about five feet in the air and it landed upside down,” he remembered. “As soon as the car landed upside down, I saw the fire coming out of the engine.”
Reaching for his cell phone first, Gouveia initially planned on calling 911, but feared that there wasn’t enough time for the first responders to get there.
“My concern was I didn’t know if there was a fuel leak and I was worried about an explosion,” he said.
The prison guard sprang into action. He rushed to the car, but found the doors locked. Thinking fast, he pulled the 20-year-old driver, and the 18-year-old and 19-year-old passengers from the debris through the driver’s window.
“It was my instincts,” Gouveia explained. “As soon as I saw the fire, I said, ‘I have to pull them out.'”
Had he failed to act so quickly, the three people would have been caught in an inferno.
“About 20 seconds later the fire was even worse,” he said. “That’s when all hell broke loose.”
Moments after Gouveia got the last person from the car, it exploded.
Authorities arrived shortly after. The driver and the backseat passenger were sent to Rhode Island Hospital for medical examination having suffered minor injuries, and the front seat passenger was unharmed and refused medical attention. Authorities are charging the driver with operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol.
Luckily for them, a man who doesn’t think twice about his own safety came by.
“If I have to do it again,” Gouveia stated, “I would do it.”