WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Often times, we turn to law enforcement for safety and security -- the men and women who sacrifice themselves to help others.
But that role reversed for one state trooper a couple of months ago. Almost two months ago to the day, good Samaritan Jose Rodriguez defied the odds by physically lifting a car to save Florida Highway Patrol trooper Andy Ong on Interstate 95 on Oct. 1.
On Thursday, Rodriguez was honored with a heroism award during a ceremony at the Police Benevolent Association of Palm Beach County.
Trooper Ong still has bruises on his face from the day he almost died. And although he has a hard time speaking, the moment he reunited with Rodriguez spoke volumes.
"I haven't seen him since the accident," said Rodriguez. "I'm just glad I was able to help."
"I ran and said I was the only one who can lift the car up," said Rodriguez.
Rodriguez was just a passerby on the interstate, pulling over to see if he could help. He said others on the scene were in shock but when he walked up, the adrenaline immediately kicked in.
"I jumped over the wall and went and lifted the car -- and it felt like it weighed two pounds," he said. "When I saw his eyes were open, that's when I just tried to be there with him and let him breathe."
Ong's comrades at FHP said it's a miracle he survived.
"We have families. We have kids and moms and dads, wives. And we want to be able to go home," said Sgt. Mark Wysocky. "It's amazing that people put themselves in peril also to help another person."
Rodriguez hopes the heroism award he received will serve as an inspiration to others to do the same.
"I believe in every man, a real man, is a hero," he said. "It doesn't matter that he's an officer or not. I saved a life."
Ong and Rodriguez plan to keep in touch and maintain their friendship.
Ong has undergone several surgeries and will need more rehabilitation as he continues his recovery at home, FHP said.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the trooper and his family.