FORT PIERCE, Fla. — The St. Lucie County Fire District awarded a Fort Pierce man with a life-saving award for pulling three children out of a burning car.
Wednesday, the children also got to show him their gratitude.
Carl Noble was recognized in front of his family and firefighters for putting his life on the line to save the children, ages 4, 6 and 8.
"Somebody had to do it. I thank God I was there," Noble emotionally told the board.
Noble was waiting in the pickup line at Lawnwood Elementary School to get his granddaughter on Feb. 17 when a car parked nearby started smoking.
"I got out of my vehicle and a big ball of smoke shot out of the car, filled the car with smoke," Noble described. "All of a sudden the fire started. When the fire started, something in the back of my mind told me, 'Someone's in there. Run.'"
He ran up to the car to see if anyone was inside.
"I yelled, 'Is anyone in here?'" Noble said. "One of the little kids put their hand on the window. I couldn't see inside because of the smoke."
The first door he pulled was locked. The second door he pulled got him inside.
He grabbed one of the boys, who was hesitant to move.
"I said, 'No boy, come on out, quickly.'"
Then he saw a second boy's arm and grabbed him to pull him out.
He then saw a little girl.
"She was struggling trying to get between the seats," Noble said. "Just as I was about to pick her up, the car made two explosions. I had the little girl in my hands, so I just kept her in my hands and the force knocked me back."
Noble said he injured his arm and his eye, but the children were OK.
The children gave him hugs and thanked him, saying he saved their lives.
Their grandmother said Noble deserves the award and more.
"We really appreciate what he did, 'cause it could have gone different," grandmother Tracie Thompkins said. "It could have been different if he wasn't there. Those are my grandkids and I love them with everything in me. He is their angel."