FELLSMERE, Fla. — A local man is recovering in an Orlando hospital after his car caught fire earlier this week in Fellsmere, seriously burning his body.
Fellsmere police identified the driver as 56-year-old Scott Markowitz.
Police also credit a good Samaritan with saving Markowitz from the burning car before they arrive on the scene.
Alfredo Ramos, a father of five children and a painter, said he was driving to work Monday morning along County Road 512 in Fellsmere.
Ramos said the driver in front of him, Markowitz, put on his hazard lights. Police said Markowitz started feeling dizzy.
“I just got my music running, so I’m just stopping, waiting, I’m thinking they need help, so I’m just waiting for the guy to get out and ask me, 'Can you help me push the car,' like something broke.”
Instead, Ramos heard someone else nearby yelling for his attention.
“I turned my radio down and the guy said to give him a hand. The car is on fire!”
Ramos said he took a better look at the car and saw smoke coming out the windows.
“I said, 'I have to do something', so I parked and put on my emergency lights,” Ramos said. "I’m thinking when I’m running back and forth trying to open it, I'm thinking it’s a movie, but it’s not a movie, it’s real.”
Ramos said the airbags were deployed inside the car and he could see Markowitz already had serious burns on the right side of his body.
He said Markowitz was still dizzy and confused, and Ramos struggled to get his seatbelt off, ultimately ripping it.
“So, I had to push the airbag back and get all the way through the side and try to get that seatbelt, but the fire is right there and the smoke and the guy is so dizzy. I said don’t go anywhere. Stay with me, I’ll help you out.”
Ramos dragged Markowitz out of the car before flames consumed the vehicle.
“Because I see in the movies the action when the car has an explosion you have to go quickly.”
Markowitz was taken to a burn center in Orlando.
He doesn't consider himself a hero, but others do, including police.
“You’re a hero, you did a good job. I said, 'Lucky I watch action movies,'” Ramos laughed.
Police have not said what caused the fire.