The phrase “once a hero, always a hero” was meant to honor military veterans, but it certainly applies to Steve Montelongo of Modesto, California, as well.
The 80-year-old has already proven he would risk his own life to save others. And in October, he did it again!
Steve was driving his granddaughter home from the dentist when she told him she’d just seen a car crashing into a canal.
According to the California Highway Patrol, the driver, a 62-year-old named Jack Swarts, experienced a medical episode and lost control of the car. Steve immediately pulled over, and when he didn’t see any of the 20 bystanders moving to help, the octogenarian jumped in himself!
With all four doors closed, Jack was trapped inside the sinking vehicle. As the water rose, so did his panic. Fortunately, Steve was able to open one of the doors.
“When I opened the door, it gushed in and it pulled me, it actually pulled me towards the car, and I fell back against the car and I tried to get my balance, still with my sight on the man, making sure he wouldn’t go under,” Steve said. “I literally yanked him out, just praying that T-shirt wouldn’t rip off right there, you know?”
Thanks to Steve’s quick actions, Jack survived without any injuries, although he was taken to a hospital. But the most incredible part of this story? This was the third life Steve has saved! In 2003, he pulled two elderly neighbors out of their house after it caught fire! He was awarded the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission medal for his bravery.
While Steve insists he isn’t a hero, everyone else says otherwise — including the three people he kept safe. His family, especially his granddaughter, must be so proud!
Learn more about the rescue in the video below, and share this story to spread recognition for this hero.
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