JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA — A man is dead but his 1-year-old daughter is alive after two brave men pulled her from a mangled wreck beside Interstate 95, south of Jacksonville, Florida.
The deceased is 31-year-old Daniel Dufek of Lake City, Florida.
Early on Friday Dufek was headed north in his 2004 GMC Envy with daughter Ava strapped into a car seat in the back. For reasons still unknown to police, the SUV left the road at a high speed around 1:15 a.m., went into a ditch and rolled. It smashed through the trees filling the median and came to rest beside Western Way, its roof virtually torn clean off.
Michigan-based removalists Steven Hill and Jason Nelson were first on the scene, having spotted a fire from afar and realized it was road accident. They investigated and intended to provide aid to the driver, but they took one look at Dufek and knew he'd been killed.
Then, just as the fire began to grow, Hill noticed Ava still strapped in her car seat. Nelson dove back in. With great effort he managed to break the car seat's straps and pull the child free. Moments later the car's gas tank exploded and flames took over the wreck.
Thanks to the bravery of Nelson and Hill, Ava may survive. She suffered four broken ribs and other injuries and remains in the hospital with a fighting chance at life, thanks to two everyday heroes.