AdventHealth employees credited with rescuing deputy from burning car, saving his life

AH Employees with Sgt.

Fla., ORLANDO, Fla., Feb. 12, 2019 AdventHealth nurse LaStar Bruce was headed to church. Harrison Steward, an AHMG physician assistant, was beginning a family road trip. Sheriff’s Sgt. Jamie Hoffman was on his routine patrol.

They were strangers until a crash rendered Hoffman unconscious and his patrol car in flames on State Road 408.

When they saw the crash, Bruce, Steward and Steward’s wife, Linda, stopped on the busy highway and, without hesitation, did what they do best: save lives.

Moments later, they were joined by fellow good Samaritan Donald Townsend, and together, they saved Hoffman.

"For these folks to stop and risk their life and safety takes a lot of courage,” Hoffman said. “I believe God put them there for a specific reason.”

This month, Bruce, the Stewards and Townsend were honored by Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, Sheriff John Mina and Fire Chief Otto Drozd with Citizen Lifesaving Awards.

“They collectively showed great courage when one of our own needed them the most,” said Demings, who was sheriff at the time of the July accident. “It’s safe to say they saved Sergeant Hoffman’s life that day.”

Bruce, who works in AdventHealth Kissimmee’s emergency department, was headed in the opposite direction when she saw the crash. She quickly stopped her car, climbed over the median and ran to Harrison’s aid.

“I knew we only had seconds to get him out,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Stewards stopped and got to work using a first-aid kit in their vehicle.

“We help save lives at the hospital every day, but out on the road it was a lot different,” said Harrison Steward, who works in cardiovascular and thoracic surgery at AHMG. “Protecting myself, my family and others is part of my nature and is what we're trained to do.”

In awarding the good Samaritans their awards earlier this month, Mina said he’s inspired by their quick-thinking and bravery.

So is Hoffman, who suffered minor injuries and returned to work a week after the fiery crash.

“From the bottom of my heart, I am extremely thankful,” Hoffman said.