INVERNESS (FOX 13) - Two Citrus County deputies are being hailed heroes. After a car crashed, flipped, and pinned a passenger underneath, they were able to help lift the vehicle until other first responders could pull the man out.
They say it was teamwork, with EMS, the Fire Department, and regular citizens all having hands in the rescue.
Early Sunday morning, neighbors living near State Road 44 and South Cove Walk in Inverness were startled by a terrible sound.
"We got woken up to the dogs barking to a loud boom," said Kathy Knecht. "Maybe 5-7 minutes later, someone is banging on our door. My husband came out with a flashlight and heard someone screaming, 'help me'."
A car had lost control, crashing into trees. The driver was ejected and moving around. But, the passenger, badly injured, was pinned underneath. Seconds were critical.
"My husband and the gentleman that got ejected from the car put pressure on a stick to sort of hold the car up until the deputy got there," Knecht said.
The first deputy on scene was Dep. Thomas Indorato.
"I picked up part of the vehicle and tried to push it toward the tree itself to try to get the pressure off his head," Indorato said. "The biggest thing I wanted at that time was to get this vehicle off this person. If I could pick the car up myself and throw it, I would have."
Dep. Jericho McIntyre was moments behind him. "I saw him, both hands, holding it up," McIntyre recalled. "All I saw was the dome of his head. I remember thinking, holy cow, I hope this guy is still good."
McIntyre used his back and legs to bear the weight until EMS and other deputies were able to pull the victim out.
"When we started to lift the car up, you could hear him scream, which was kind of a ray of hope because you know he is alive," McIntyre said.
Both the driver and passenger were hurt but most importantly, they survived. While the deputies are being called "heroes," they humbly say they're not the only ones.
"Everybody's a hero that was involved in this, including the citizens that called and helped to try to get this victim to the right EMS personnel," Indorato said.
Kayla Nelson, who lives near the crash site, knows both Deputies Indornato and McIntyre. She said she couldn't be prouder.
"They're awesome, they did awesome," Nelson said. "Nice hometown 'done right,' small town 'done right.' Inverness, Citrus County. So, great job CCSO and great job Deputy McIntyre and Deputy Indorato."