An off-duty Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office officer is being called a hero for helping rescue people from a vehicle that flipped over on a busy highway Saturday afternoon in Georgia.
Anthony Laquidara helped save the day for a family of four after its truck flipped on its side.
“I know any other good person would have stopped on the side of the road,” he said.
Laquidara has been on the force for more than three years now. He also got help from nearly 10 other drivers who pulled over.
Laquidara is a scoutmaster. He and scouts with Troop 26 were on their way back from a week-long camping trip in Georgia.
They say a vehicle driving in front of them on I-75 was switching lanes when one of the back tires blew, causing the driver to lose control and flip several times.
Laquidara pulled two people out while gas was leaking and the vehicle was smoking.
“We kicked out the back windshield, so we got one girl out of there and then there,” he said. “One female was also trapped underneath the steering wheel. So another gentleman and I crawled inside the car. We had to lift her up in order to get her unstuck.”
Scouts Henry Bryan and John Stewart saw it all and were amazed.
“I just see [Laquidara] pulling over and immediately bolting out,” Bryan said, who is a scout. “I’ve never seen anybody run that fast.”
“I was thinking I just hope they are okay,” Stewart said, who joined Troop 26 last fall. “I hope the car does not catch on fire and [Laquidara] will be okay.”
Laquidara has been a scoutmaster for a little more than a year. He says his life skills training as an Eagle Scout growing up is also crucial.
“We always hear the stories of his daily life as a police officer, and we’re always like ‘Okay, yeah,’” Bryan said of seeing Laquidara jump into action with no hesitation. “But we never expected to see him in action, especially not this extreme.”
“It inspired me to help other people more often,” Stewart said.
Laquidara refuses to call himself a hero but says he is grateful he was in the right place at the right time.
“I just think it is the right thing to do,” he said. “Again, I could not have been able to do it without the other people who stopped to help. It makes me want to continue to help raise those kids and show them what scouting is all about and show them that you do not have to be special to help people out.”
Laquidara says there were two adults and two teenagers in the van. Three of the people were taken to the hospital for their injuries but everyone is expected to be okay.