Manatee County deputy rescues couple from burning car

- An off-duty Manatee County Sheriff's deputy helped free a husband and wife from a burning car using his personal firearm, the agency said Monday.

According to a release, 66-year-old Neil Cook and his wife, Claudia, were traveling on Moccasin Wallow Road in Palmetto when Neil noticed smoke coming from his vehicle.

He pulled over, but when Neil tried to get out of the car, he and his wife realized they were trapped.  The car's electronic windows and locks weren't working and their car was starting to catch on fire. 

That's when off-duty Deputy Willie Finklea swooped in to help. Finklea was passing by on his motorcycle with his wife when he saw the burning car and stopped to rescue the couple. The Sheriff's Office says Finklea used his personal firearm and fired one shot into the left side rear window to gain entry.  The deputy then went in and pulled Claudia out of the car through the back passenger side door.  Neil said he was able to crawl to the passenger side and opened the passenger side front door to escape.  

The department says thanks to Finklea's quick action, there were no serious injuries.

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