18-year-old honored after pulling mother and 3 children from burning vehicle in Connecticut

An 18-year-old man is being hailed as a hero after pulling a mother and her three young children from a burning vehicle in Connecticut.

Justin Gavin had just stepped off of a city bus on Sept. 9 and was walking down the street when an SUV passed him with flames shooting from underneath, according to the Republican-American newspaper.

The vehicle, which had lost its brakes, came to rest in a nearby parking lot, the newspaper reported. 

Gavin ran to the scene and pulled a 1-year-old, a 4-year-old and a 9-year-old from the backseat. He also helped the mother in the driver’s seat unfasten her seat belt and escorted her away from the fiery vehicle as it burst into flames.


A provided image shows the badly burned vehicle. (Photo credit: Waterbury Police Department)

“I said (to the driver), ‘Don’t thank me,’” Gavin said. “It’s just something I did, because what’s the point of letting somebody lose their life?”

Police Chief Fernando Spagnolo met with Gavin later in the day and awarded him a special coin to thank him for his heroism.

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Justin Gavin, 18, was honored for his heroism by Waterbury Police Chief Fernando Spagnolo. (Photo credit: Waterbury Police Department)

“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 tells Gavin in a video posted on the department’s Facebook page.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. It was reported from Cincinnati.