Off-duty Manatee deputy saves couple in burning vehicle

Posted at 10:33 PM, Aug 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-22 17:37:27-04

An off-duty deputy rescued two people from a burning vehicle on Sunday.

According to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, Neil Cook and his wife were in the 9300 block of Moccasin Wallow Rd around 2:30 p.m  when Cook noticed smoke coming from his vehicle.

Cook pulled over and realized the car was fire.

When the couple tried to exit the car, they found none of the electronic windows or locks would open.

Off-duty deputy Willie Finklea was riding his motorcycle with his wife when they saw the couple in the burning vehicle.

"The vehicle was smoking and getting more intense as I was there," said Finklea.

While Finklea's wife called 911, he used his personal firearm and fired one shot into the left side rear window to get into the car.

Finklea went into the backseat and opened the front passenger door, where Claudia was able to exit the vehicle.

Neil said he was able to crawl to the passenger side and open the door and get out.

The department said, "due to Deputy Finklea's quick action, there were not serious injuries." 

Finklea said he was simply doing his job.

"This is what I do, there was no hesitation it was something I had to do and I did it," said Finklea.