- By Sarah Peters Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
A Stuart teen became a hero on his way to prom last April when he stopped to get two people out of their crashed car seconds before it burst into flames.
Evan Travers was driving with his girlfriend when the car in front of him veered across Kanner Highway, hit a light post and slammed into a tree.
Travers, who is in a fire-rescue career exploration program in Palm Beach Gardens, whipped into a gas station and told his girlfriend to call 911. He ran to the car and found the woman in the driver’s seat having a seizure, her passenger unconscious, Travers said.
The car was still running. The doors were locked, but the dazed male passenger came around. Travers talked him into opening the car doors, and an off-duty paramedic who came up on the scene tugged the woman from the car just in time.
“Before we could turn the car off, the car was already catching on fire. Flames were coming up underneath the car,” Travers, 19, said.
By the time firefighters rolled the hose out, the car was already in flames.
The police and ambulance arrived and took over, and Travers and his girlfriend went on their way to a pre-prom dinner at a Japanese Steakhouse.
When he told his friends what happened, some of them didn’t believe his shocking tale. The smell of smoke that clung to him for the rest of the night clued them in that his account was true.
Travers, of Stuart, earned a Life-Saving Award from Learning for Life, which oversees the Fire Explorer career program for young adults ages 14 to 21. Approval for the award is a rigorous process that takes six months to a year.
To get the award, there has to be a high probability that the people the Explorer helped would have died if he or she wasn’t there, Palm Beach Gardens Program Director Tommy Thurman said.
Thurman and Gulf Stream Council Exploring Director Alec Connolly presented Travers with the award during a February City Council meeting.
Despite the high standard for getting the reward, Travers is the second teen from the Explorers post in six months to receive it. Nick Swan earned the award in August for getting a woman and her two chihuahuas safely out of a house fire in Tequesta.
The Explorers post in Gardens is the only one in the Gulf Stream Council’s service area to have two young adults receive the Life-Saving Award in the last decade, Connolly said. The area stretches from Boca Raton to Sebastian and out to Lake Okeechobee.
Travers said he signed up for the Explorers to get his volunteer hours for school, but he knew he found a career as a paramedic-firefighter when he started doing ride-alongs.
Depending on an Explorer’s level of experience, he or she may take vitals or bandage a wound. On a fire call, they can help with the hoses but not enter a burning building.
“The Explorers set me on a good path for it, and I love it,” he said.
He finished EMT school in December and starts fire school in March.
Thurman calls him “top of the line.”
“He’s always there. He knows what to do. He’s constantly looking to improve himself.”