An off-duty firefighter running late for his son’s soccer practice was in the right place at the right time Saturday morning, when he saw a 33-year-old sheriff’s deputy in distress.
Matthew Luxon of the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office suffered a medical emergency around 10:30 a.m. Saturday as he was driving toward Orange Boulevard and Wayside Drive in Sanford, where the deputy careened into a concrete pillar, according to the sheriff’s office.
Saturday morning, SCSO Deputy Matthew Luxon suffered a medical emergency believed to have caused him to crash in to concrete pillar at Orange Blvd. and Wayside Dr. in Sanford. Off duty @OrlandoFireDept Lt. Benjamin Woodson rescued him just before the vehicle caught fire. (Cont) pic.twitter.com/NwRHXPx5Ck— Seminole County S.O. (@SeminoleSO) March 26, 2023
“I thank God that he was there at that time,” said Sheriff Dennis Lemma of Orlando Fire Department Lt. Benjamin Wootson, who saw the entire ordeal unfold.
Wootson told WFTV-TV he was running late getting his son to soccer practice that morning. He recalled seeing a sheriff’s cruiser coming in his direction and, when he looked in his rearview mirror, he saw the patrol car slam into a pillar supporting the overpass.
“I immediately pulled a U-turn at the next intersection and rushed back,” said the firefighter. “By the time I got on scene, there was a little bit of flames on the underneath of the vehicle, the engine compartment was already on fire.”
In a separate interview with WOFL-TV, Wootson said he noticed “two golf ball-size flames” where Luxon’s legs were. As soon as he pulled the deputy from the car, the vehicle, he said, went up in flames.
Once Wootson pulled Luxon to safety, the off-duty firefighter used Wootson’s radio to call for help.
“Matt had successful surgeries into the late hours on Saturday,” Lemma said in a statement Sunday. “But make no mistake, he has a long road to recovery ahead of him. The support of our Seminole County and the greater Central Florida community will help Matt pull through now and into the immediate future.”
The sheriff also lauded Wootson for his selfless heroism.
“I also spoke with Orlando Fire Department Lt. Benjamin Wootson, who heroically rescued Matt from his patrol unit moments after his crash and just before the unit caught fire,” Lemma said. “Lt. Wootson, who was off duty and also very kind when we spoke, simply reminded me that ‘this is what we do.’”
Wootson, for his part, sees his location as nothing short of divine.
“God put me in a place where [my son and I] were running late on purpose,” he said. “I was in the right place at the right time to save an individual.”