Teen Lifts Truck Off Trapped Dad: ‘I Just Did What I Had to Do’

A 19-year-old was given a “Citizen Lifesaving Award” Thursday night after pulling her father out from under a burning truck and saving her family from the fire.

Charlotte Heffelmire was home in Vienna, Va., for Thanksgiving break from the Air Force Academy when she saw that her father had gotten stuck under the pickup truck he’d been working on. “I was on my back, face up, and I was trying to get some corroded brakes lines when apparently the jack slipped and fell down on me,” her dad, Eric Heffelmire, told WUSA9. Gasoline spilled and caught fire, and he knew he was in trouble. “I thought they’d be pulling out a dead body later in the evening.”

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Charlotte Heffelmire pulled her trapped father out from underneath this GMC truck. (Photo: NBC4 Washington)

After struggling for 10 minutes, his barefoot teenage daughter came running into the garage. “I felt the weight shift, and I said, ‘You almost got it,’ and then it was just UGHHHHHHRRR, and suddenly I’m pulled out,” Eric told NBC4.

Even Charlotte, 120 pounds and 5-foot-6, isn’t sure where her power came from. “It was some crazy strength,” she told WUSA9.

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Eric Heffelmire’s daughter was presented with an award for saving his life. (Photo: NBC4 Washington)

Realizing the burning truck could set her house on fire at any moment, Charlotte jumped into the car and drove it out of the garage. “I didn’t want the entire house to explode with the truck, so I started the truck, put it in four-wheel drive, and just mashed on it with three wheels and just drove out,” she said.

Then she went inside the house to grab her baby sister and got her grandmother out of the house too. “I just did what I had to do, so I don’t feel like a big hero or anything,” Charlotte said. Her local fire department, Fairfax County Fire and Rescue, felt differently, awarding her the Citizen Lifesaving Award.  

After suffering a back injury and burns to her feet and hands, Charlotte is unable to return to the Air Force Academy but plans on continuing to pursue public service, she told NBC4. “If I can’t do any of the military branches, then probably just intelligence or government work,” she said. “Right now I’m just healing up and making sure the family is OK.”

Top photo: WUSA9

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