- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—MYAKKA CITY — A hero doesn’t necessarily wear a sports uniform.

That’s what a hero looks like said a retired firefighter, motioning to Levi Teuton, a humble, lean man in a pullover shirt, blue jeans and cowboy boots, who works as a mechanic at Ferrin Dakin Dairy.

Monday night, Myakka City Fire Department firefighters and commissioners, plus the Fraternal Order of Leatherheads Society (FOOLS), honored Teuton for rescuing a 15-year-old boy trapped in a burning vehicle on Easter morning.

Teuton was on his way home with his family, wearing shorts, and slip-on shoes, preparing for his daughter Kya’s Easter egg hunt when he saw black smoke billowing in the distance.

As he got closer, he saw a wrecked pickup truck, and prayed there wasn’t anyone inside the inferno.

But there was, and he pulled off the road, reassuring Ericka that there was no real danger because the truck was on fire and had already exploded, or so he thought.

He went to the truck to try to rescue the two occupants, who were trapped inside the twisted wreckage, the doors jammed.

Teuton saw that the passenger was a teenager who was in pain, and was pleading for help.

After a struggle to get the youth out of the crushed, burning truck, he was able to haul him half way out a window when propane tanks exploded, knocking both of them free.

“I looked up from the ground and saw the blue sky, and said thank you God,” Teuton told a crowd who filled the fire commissioners meeting room.

The truck’s driver died in the fire.

Both Teuton and the Arcadia teen had serious burns, and the youth had a broken leg. There were both airlifted to Tampa General Hospital for treatment of burns.

“It’s a miracle we’re both alive, not blinded and not suffering from smoke inhalation,” he said.

Myakka Fire Chief Danny Cacchiotti called what Teuton did that day a “very, very heroic thing.”

Cacchiotti continued: “We want to publicly thank you for what you did in risking your life and saving that young fellow’s life.”

Firefighters and commissioners presented life-saving certificates to Teuton. He was also named an honorary firefighter by both the fire department and FOOLS.

But the overwhelmed Teuton seemed most delighted by the firefighter helmet he received, quickly putting it on, and accepting congratulations from those who wanted to shake his hand and give him a hug.

Teuton also reflected on his assurances that he gave his wife that there was no blast danger.

“Famous last words,” Teuton said. “But who knew there were propane tanks on the truck?”

James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee reporter, can be contacted at 941-745-7053 or on Twitter @jajones1.

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