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80-Year-Old Turns Into Life-Saving Hero. Again

It seems Steve Montelongo is a good person to have around
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 9, 2020 10:36 AM CDT

(Newser) – Steve Montelongo says he was "in the right place at the right time" on Thursday when he saved the life of a man trapped in a partially submerged car. Though there was a crowd of at least 20 people already gathered around the irrigation canal in Modesto, Calif., when Montelongo's granddaughter spotted the car within it as her grandfather drove her to an appointment, he stopped and got out anyway. "I'm a hero, you know," the 80-year-old jokingly told her, per the Modesto Bee. He wasn't lying. In 2003, the retired construction worker was awarded a medal from the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission after saving two neighbors from a burning home. Then 62, he'd kicked down the front door and pulled one elderly neighbor to safety before returning for the woman's husband. He'd given the man his own shoes before helping him escape, which required knocking down a second door.

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Arriving at the scene on Thursday, Montelongo saw no attempts to help free the driver trapped behind the wheel. "So I walked into the canal—it was about 10 feet for me—and I managed to open the door," he tells the Bee. "The water was rushing in, the car was starting to move," he adds, per CBS Sacramento. "I grabbed [the driver's] shirt and I just pulled him out. But uh, that was it." The 62-year-old driver was taken to the hospital to be treated for a medical emergency, which had caused him to crash into the canal, according to California Highway Patrol. "First responder, he can probably add to his resume," rep Tom Olsen tells CBS of Montelongo. "A lot of people are in the right place at the right time, but very few actually did what Mr. Montelongo did." Despite his earlier joke, Montelongo says he's no hero. But his grandson disagrees. "He has done it again," he tells the Bee. (Read more uplifting news stories.)

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