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An unexpected hero

Staff Sgt. Brandon Lape, 45th Security Forces Squadron, his wife, Senior Airman Deborah Lape, 920th Rescue Wing, and their son Christian, 6. Sergeant Lape is credited with saving a man from a burning vehicle and Airman Lape cleared away onlookers just before the car exploded.

Staff Sgt. Brandon Lape, 45th Security Forces Squadron, his wife, Senior Airman Deborah Lape, 920th Rescue Wing, and their son Christian, 6. Sergeant Lape is credited with saving a man from a burning vehicle and Airman Lape cleared away onlookers just before the car exploded.

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Heroes are people of distinguished courage who are admired for their brave deeds and noble qualities.

On September 4, the driver of a vehicle engulfed in flames on Interstate 4 was saved by Staff Sgt. Brandon Lape, who is the noncommissioned officer in charge of police services for the 45th Space Wing and a hero.

Lape and his wife, Senior Airman Deborah Lape, who is a medical technician for the 920th Rescue Wing, were driving to a friend's house when they noticed a vehicle, which had flames and smoke coming out of its undercarriage, driving extremely slowly.

The vehicle on fire, coincidently, parked directly across from a woman and her baby who were struggling to fix a flat tire. Lape and his wife parked right behind the woman and planned to assist both drivers.

Lape immediately jumped out of his car, leaped over the median wall and stopped traffic. Once traffic had slowed, Lape ran across four lanes of traffic to assist the driver of the burning car.

The individual inside the fiery vehicle was an older man who was so immersed in the thick smoke that Lape could barely see him.
 
"Luckily the driver's door was unlocked," said Lape. "I threw the door open and smoke blasted me in the face! I then tried to pull the man out but noticed he was tangled in his seatbelt."

Lape, full of adrenaline, got the man untangled and they hurried across the street to safety.

"My only focus was getting this man away from the car as quickly as possible," said Lape.

As Staff Sgt. Lape and the man were sprinting to safety, Mrs. Lape could see that the car was going to explode. She ran towards those close to the burning car to help clear them out of the area.

"Get back the car is going to blow," yelled Mrs. Lape, as she led those in the area to safety.

Moments after the area was cleared the car exploded and all were saved.

Lape and his wife then went back to their vehicle, called 9-1-1 and the Florida Highway Patrol, assisted the victim of the flaming car, and then continued to help the woman with the baby and flat tire.

You never know when danger may strike and you could be the next hero.

So like Sergeant and Airman Lape, be ready, be aware and be prepared.