By Ted Scouten

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – It was a fiery scene on the side of I-95. Robert Smith was in a car, unconscious when it burst into flames.

Lucky for him, strangers raced to the rescue.

Smith now has a lifetime bond with Broward Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Steven Handras and former cop Pedro Ruiz. In his heart, they’ll be the heroes who saved his life.

“I believe that it was God that was moving them and they had angels with them as well. They’re like my guardian angels,” said Smith.

Those guardian angels pulled up at just the right time. Ruiz stopped when he saw the car on fire at the I-95 Sample Road exit. Sgt. Handras was just moments behind. The two of them broke the window to pull him out as the inside of the car was already filled with smoke and fire.

“He stuck his body inside the window and unhooked the seat belt. In doing that, that gave me enough time to reach inside the door,” said Ruiz.

As Ruiz and Handras pulled Smith from the car, his sleeve was on fire. They were well aware the whole thing could blow at any second.

“I don’t know how else to describe it. It was like the movies where you pull the guy out of the car and the car erupts in flames,” said Handras. “The whole time I’m praying to God that the whole car doesn’t blow up and kill all three of us.”

They dragged Smith across the road and realized he had no pulse. That’s when Ruiz began CPR.

“About a minute, minute plus into giving chest compressions, he gives a real big sigh of relief, a breath, Mr. Robert, he comes back,” said Ruiz.

Smith remembers nothing about that night. He’s amazed as he hears about the heroic actions that saved his life and is forever grateful to the two stranger who risked it all.

“The car was on fire and they risked their lives. It had a full tank of gas which they didn’t know at the time. They risked their lives. They could have died alongside me,” said Smith. “I just don’t want to let them down. I want to make good on their sacrifice.”


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