TAMPA — One of the first to come upon the scene of a crash that killed three people on the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway was Don Rogers, a 48-year-old contractor from Seffner.
Rogers attempted to save the life of one of the victims and was hailed as a hero by Brian Dugan, the Tampa Police Department's interim chief at a news conference Friday afternoon.
Rogers said he was driving home from work Thursday afternoon when he saw smoke and pulled over. He and a stranger ran to the source, a Hyundai with flames spreading from its trunk forward.
Seeing a man in the drivers' seat, Rogers and the other man pried the door open, and Rogers cut him loose from his seatbelt with a knife. The car was so hot that a fob on the keychain he was carrying melted.
"You could feel the heat," he said.
Rogers pulled the man out of the car, saying he was never responsive and did not have a pulse. With smoke filling the car's back seat, he didn't realize there were two passengers until police told him later.
"I didn't sleep too good last night," he said. He tossed and turned, wondering if he could have saved them.
The decision to pull over and help was never in question, he said.
"I have a hard time driving by somebody with a flat tire," he said. "Just doing what I think is right and doing it as quick as possible."