Advertisement
  1. News

He helped save a disabled man trapped in a burning house. Now, he is a letter-carrier hero

Jason Moss helped pull a man from a burning home last year while delivering letters along his postal route. For his bravery, Moss has been named a National Association of Letter Carriers Hero of the Year. [LUIS SANTANA | Times]
Published Sep. 25, 2018

VALRICO — Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night are supposed to keep U.S. Postal Service workers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.

Add fire to that list for Jason Moss, a letter carrier for the Sulphur Springs Post Office.

In June 2017, Moss helped Tampa police officers save a disabled man from a house fire along his route.

Moss required treatment in an emergency room for smoke inhalation, but was back at work the next morning.

"Everyone said I should take time off," said Moss, 32 of Valrico. "Nah. That's not how I roll. I love my job."

PREVIOUS: Tampa sergeant dons gas mask at fire scene and pushes man to safety through window

For his courage, Moss will be honored Wednesday in Washington, D.C., as one of two National Association of Letter Carriers Heroes of the Year.

Sharing the spotlight with Moss is another Florida letter carrier who performed a similar act of bravery.

John Sylvain of Fort Lauderdale battled heat and smoke to save a man from a burning home along his route. Sylvain is an Army veteran who served in Afghanistan, according to the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Moss had no previous emergency training.

"People think I'm crazy," said Moss, a father of three and a letter carrier for 13 years. "I like to think people would do the same for my family."

His girlfriend Mary Peters said selflessness is one of Moss' qualities.

"That's who he is," Peters said. "He helps people. If he sees someone on the side of the road, he helps — always."

An electrical malfunction, maybe in an air conditioning unit, was blamed in the fire that broke out at 7903 N. Greenwood Ave. around 1:20 p.m. on June 9, 2017, according to a Tampa Police Department incident report.

The mail boxes on Greenwood, a dead-end road, are across the street from the home, Moss said. As he was delivering his daily letters, he noticed black smoke billowing near the building.

He asked a man standing in front of the home if someone was burning tires. No, the man told Moss, the house was on fire and 68-year-old Terry Sims, who is disabled, was trapped in the front bedroom.

"I didn't really think," Moss said. "I just went to the front bedroom window and popped the screen out and went in but was overwhelmed with smoke. So, I came out. I tried a second time, but the smoke burned my eyes."

Tampa police officers Charnele Baker, Richard Caldwell and Peter Sierra then arrived, the incident report said.

One of the officers attempted to climb through the same window, but the smoke was still too thick. A back window closer to Sims was blocked by a bookshelf.

"We were going to put wet shirts around our faces and try that front window again," Moss said. "Then another officer showed up with a respirator."

Sgt. Larry Brass put on the gas mask, according to the report, and climbed through the front window into the bedroom.

Brass retrieved and handed Sims to Moss and the other officers, who were straddling the window. They carried Sims outside as Brass rescued a pit bull named Tank.

Moss and an officer then kicked out an air conditioning unit from another window to bring a second pit bull named Rosie to safety.

Tampa Fire Rescue had the fire under control within half an hour after authorities first arrived, according to the report. A fire investigator determined the home was a total loss and estimated damages at $325,000.

Moss said he still sees Sims' son Richard Sims on his postal route. The son has thanked him and said his father now lives in an assisted living facility.

The son could not be reached for comment.

"The whole thing still seams surreal," Moss said. "Maybe it will hit me when I get the award."

Still, he said he'll never quite understand how he managed to be in the right place at the right time. He was running a whole hour behind on his route that day.

"If I am on time, I'm not there," he said. "My girlfriend tells me that God puts people in spots for a reason. We just have to be ready for whatever happens."

Contact Paul Guzzo at pguzzo@tampabay.com. Follow @PGuzzoTimes.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Hundreds of demonstrators protest a Trump administration announcement that reversed an Obama-era order allowing transgender students to use school bathrooms matching their gender identities, outside of The Stonewall Inn in New York, Feb. 23, 2017. Activists in the LGBTQ community mobilized a fast and fierce campaign on Oct. 21, 2018, to say transgender people cannot be expunged from society, in response to an unreleased Trump administration memo that proposes a strict definition of gender based on a person's genitalia at birth. [Times Files] YANA PASKOVA  |  NYT
    Local vigils will be held in Tampa on Nov. 20 to honor those who lost their lives due to violence against the transgender community.
  2. U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland talks about holding a cell phone to his ear as he talks with President Donald Trump as he testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, during a public impeachment hearing of Trump's efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) ANDREW HARNIK  |  AP
    Gordon Sondland told House impeachment investigators he pushed a “quid pro quo” with Ukraine because it was what the President wanted.
  3. The Florida Supreme Court building in Tallahassee. SCOTT KEELER  |  Times
    Department of Education attorneys say the lower courts ruled properly in tossing the case.
  4. Bob Larson, 81, from St. Petersburg, raises his hand to indicate he has a match while playing Bingo during a meal with fellow seniors in Langer Hall at the Sunshine Senior Center in St. Petersburg. Also present (but not pictured) is his wife, Janet Larson, 74. The Area Agency on Aging of Pasco-Pinellas funds 15 congregate dining sites in Pinellas and Pasco counties. The sites offer hot meals and socialization for 6,000 seniors. The Sunshine Center is one of those sites. DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Seniors are happy in their communities, but have concerns about health care, housing, transportation and support for caregivers
  5. Scott Purcell, a senior geophysicist with GeoView, left, and Mike Wightman, president of GeoView use ground penetrating radar technology to scan a portion of King High campus in search for Ridgewood Cemetery in Tampa, Florida on Wednesday, October 23, 2019.  OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times
    The mid-20th century Ridgewood Cemetery for the indigent and unknown was located on property later used to develop King High.
  6. Authorities say Rocky Ali Beamon strangled and stabbed 27-year-old Nicholas Anderson in January 2017 when they shared a cell at the Santa Rosa Correctional Institution in Milton. Florida Department of Corrections
    Rocky Ali Beamon previously had been sentenced to life in prison for a 2005 murder in Hillsborough County.
  7. The tenth annual Shopaplooza returns to St. Petersburg for the Thanksgiving Day weekend, but this time at the Vinoy Park and with major changes. LocalShops1
    The annual festival highlighting everything local was previously held at Straub Park. But that’s not the only change this year.
  8. Photo of the sign of the Skyway Marina District in St. Petersburg. [Photo Luis Santana | Times]
    The newest is being built on the site of the former Flamingo Resort.
  9. The Bookstore at the  Oxford Exchange during its First Friday event on 09/06/13. TIMES (2013)  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Plus other Instagram-worthy spots around Tampa Bay.
  10. FILE - In this Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018 file photo, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi speaks to reporters outside the West Wing of the White House in Washington, after meeting with President Donald Trump about about responses to school shootings. Bondi is preparing to defend Trump against accusations that he pressured a foreign government to aid his re-election campaign. And she’s stepping down from a lobbying where she represented foreign interests (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File) J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE  |  AP
    The special advisor to President Trump incorrectly stated Sondland’s role while appearing on national TV ahead of the EU ambassador’s testimony.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement