PENSACOLA — A homeless Army veteran is being called a hero for pulling a man to safety when his car caught fire after a head-on crash in Florida’s Panhandle.
Freddie Finkley, 56, was standing near an intersection with his girlfriend Stephanie Tidwell on April 7 when they witnessed the crash on an I-10 overpass near Pensacola.
Finkley told the Pensacola News Journal he pulled Eric Lopez, 34, from the vehicle as flames were coming through the dashboard.
“Anybody that helps out another person — especially in this case where it could have or did save a life — we certainly appreciate that,” Pensacola Police Department spokesman Officer Mike Wood told the newspaper. “It’s not very often that people want to get involved anymore, but he did.”
Lopez was released from the hospital over the weekend. His grandmother, Sandra McFall, told the newspaper his family is grateful to Finkley.
“I asked Eric if he had anything he wanted to say to Freddie,” McFall said. “He said, ‘I just want to thank him. But how do you thank someone who saved your life? I am just so grateful to him.”
Finkley’s girlfriend says she’s not surprised by his actions.
“In general, he just helps everybody,” she said.
But Finkley, who says he’s lived on the city’s streets for five years, brushes off the accolades.
“I’m a hero now?” he said, laughing. “Come on, man.”