TSA Security Director pulls woman from burning car

Woman veered off Gunn Highway into woods

TAMPA - "This one over here, the older guy worked out of the Empire State Building," said Jim Flaherty pointed to a newspaper article on his office wall.

He's a retired New York Police detective who put a lot of bad guys in prison-- the kind of high-profile arrests that made his career and front page news.

Now the TSA Security Director keeps watch over hundreds of TSA agents at Tampa International Airport until his 5 AM commute to work along Gunn Highway landed him right back in the news.

"When I got there, when I parked my car, you could see that black, funky smoke coming out of it," he said.

A 24-year-old driver going too fast, veered-off the road and down an embankment. When her car caught on fire, she couldn't get out without help.

"She was complaining that her leg had been broken and the driver side door was pinned against the tree so there was no way to get her out there. We tried to drag her across the front seat but her leg was stuck underneath the pedals," said Flaherty.

So Flaherty and another driver, who had stopped to help, got the woman out through the passenger door and just in time, because as they pulled her to safety, the entire car caught fire.

Photos show just how fortunate the woman was to get out-- how fortunate the news headline was just a car accident and not something worse.

"I think she was lucky that at five o'clock in the morning there were two people there because I don't think I could have done it alone," he said.

Print this article Back to Top