It started as just another typical Wednesday drive to work but soon became very different for Lead TSA Officer Eduardo Rivera.
Rivera was driving his Jeep to work at the Dane County Regional Airport, in Madison, Wisconsin, when he came across a vehicle that had broken down in an intersection. Seeing that smoke was coming from the car’s rear, and no first responders were at the scene, he stopped to see if he could help.
"When I came upon the scene, I was scared someone else might still be in the car,” said Rivera. “Once I realized no one was in immediate danger, I just instinctively tried to minimize the emergency. I did what most would have done just try to prevent a bad situation from getting any worse."
As Rivera ran over to the vehicle, he found the driver, clearly distressed and unaware of what was happening. Moving the driver away from the burning car, Rivera ran to his Jeep and grabbed the fire extinguisher, kept in the back of his vehicle for emergencies and began to fight the fire that was raging out of control. The flames were beyond his small extinguishers capability.
Just in time, the fire department and first responders arrived and began to fight the smoky blaze. As traffic veered them, they began to drive into on-coming traffic, endangering the first responders and the drivers themselves.
One of the drivers was Dane County Regional Airport Lead TSA Officer John Bennett, who recognized the dangerous activity. Bennett stopped his car behind the accident scene and began redirecting traffic until the Madison Police Department arrived and relieved him.
“I saw people drive into oncoming traffic to go around firefighters that were trying to put out a fire, endangering themselves and the firefighters,” said Bennett. “I didn't think about it; I just blocked traffic and redirected them away from the firefighters.”
A Madison Police Department Sergeant at the scene later commented that she was very thankful that both Rivera and Bennett stopped to assist. Rivera said, "I'm just glad the driver was safe and unharmed.”
“I am very proud and humbled to work alongside Officers Rivera and Bennett,” said Dane County Regional Airport, Assistant Federal Security Director Mike Gapinski. “Their instincts took over when they saw they could be of help to a fellow motorist as well as first responders. They are great representatives of TSA and outstanding citizens.”