LAUDERHILL, Fla. – A firefighter with Broward Sheriff’s Office Fire Rescue is continuing to recover from severe burns after he and his girlfriend were hurt in a massive inferno following a tanker truck crash on Interstate 95 this week.
Bryan Aparicio was airlifted from Delray Medical Center to Jackson Memorial Hospital’s burn unit Thursday to continue his recovery.
Lt. Eric Solera, who works with Aparicio at fire station 10, at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, said Aparicio is “doing well” and “recovering.”
The 27-year-old has already undergone several cleaning procedures.
“You can see the pain in his face,” Solera said.
Aparicio and his girlfriend Su got caught up in the flames Tuesday afternoon as they were in the back of an Uber, heading north on the freeway in Delray Beach when another car veered into the path of the fuel tanker, causing it to flip over and explode.
Burning fuel spread across the highway.
“This type of fire is so intense that it can literally melt metal,” Solera said. “Bryan underwent this accident with nothing, just his regular clothes and his extremely amazing will to help others and to survive.”
Aparicio’s firefighter training kicked in immediately, his colleagues said. While he did not have the tools, he managed to save lives.
“He didn’t have a choice,” Solera said. “He went to work.”
In the end, five people were rushed to the hospital with injuries. Aparicio suffered burns to his face, hands, arms and legs, while Su had burns mainly on her legs.
“His skin was melting while he was in that environment and it didn’t stop him until he achieved what the goal was, which was save the girl’s life,” Jason Smith, president of the Broward County Professional Firefighters and Paramedics union, said.
The Uber driver has been identified as 61-year-old Carlos Molina, a beloved husband and father.
“It’s a miracle my dad is alive, and he keeps saying, ‘I was going to die,’” said Carla Molina, Carlos’ daughter. “He’s talking but very little. He’s in that shock right now.”
Molina is being treated in the ICU at Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center, suffering from second and third degree burns “on his face, arm, hands, stomach, and legs,” according to family.
We’re waiting to get updates on the two others injured.
In the meantime, colleagues have set up a GoFundMe page to help with medical expenses for Bryan and Su.
Molina’s family has set up a GoFundMe to help with hospital bills and other expenses that may arise. That page can be found by clicking here.