- Associated Press - Thursday, October 9, 2014

ACUSHNET, Mass. (AP) - A Massachusetts prison guard who pulled three people from a burning car shortly before it became engulfed says he didn’t have time to think of his own safety.

Rui Gouveia, 41, of Fairhaven, was in uniform and on his way to the state prison in Bridgewater, where he works as a correctional officer, on Tuesday night when a car passed him and crashed in Acushnet.

“When it hit the tree, it went up about five feet in the air and it landed upside down,” he said. “As soon as the car landed upside down, I saw the fire coming out of the engine.”

The crash was so severe that he thought the vehicle’s occupants were dead, he told The Standard-Times (https://bit.ly/1vTCYuV ) for a story Thursday.

“My concern was I didn’t know if there was a fuel leak and I was worried about an explosion,” he said.

Homeowners in the neighborhood called 911 as Gouveia pulled the overturned vehicle’s stunned occupants through an open window because the doors were locked. The car burst into flames seconds later.

The car’s occupants were ages 18, 19 and 20.

“Firefighters and police officers reported to me that Mr. Gouveia simply saved three lives,” Fire Chief Kevin Gallagher said.

The vehicle’s driver, who was treated and released from a hospital, will be summoned to court face charges of operating under the influence of alcohol, operating a motor vehicle to endanger and passing in a no-passing zone, police said.

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Information from: The (New Bedford, Mass.) Standard-Times, https://www.southcoasttoday.com

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