Good Samaritan describes pulling survivors from fatal crash

By Sara Belsole, Reporter
Last Updated: Monday, March 13, 2017, 5:26 PM EDT

A former Navy sailor who was once deployed in Afghanistan called upon his training and experience once again over the weekend as he rushed to help people involved in a fiery crash in Oldsmar.

  • Vincent Bruno, 25, driving home when he came upon the crash
  • Bruno worked to pull teens from burning crash
  • Events may lead good Samaritan in different career direction

Vincent Bruno, 25, and his friend Carrie Robinson were driving home early Saturday morning when they saw a truck overturned and a car on fire at the intersection of McMullen Booth Road and Curlew Road. The crash happened just seconds earlier.

"I just threw my car in park and booked it, just ran all the way across McMullen and just started pulling people out as I could,” Bruno said.

Robinson also got out of the car to help.

Bruno said the car’s engine was on fire and smoke was filling the cabin when they got there. There were four teenagers and a 20-year-old stuck inside.

"I climbed into the back driver’s side door and pulled a female and a male out,” Bruno said.

One of the teens Bruno was able to get out was 17-year-old old Paul, or P.J., Schirmer.

"He was screaming for someone to call his mom, so I just had the phone and said 'what’s her number?'" Bruno said.

Bruno was able to get a hold of Schirmer’s mother. Both he and P.J. were unaware at the time that Schirmer’s older sister, 18-year-old Jocelyn Schirmer, had been killed in the crash.

The eight others involved were seriously hurt.

Bruno, who worked in a trauma emergency department while deployed in Afghanistan, stayed with P.J. until paramedics arrived, talking with him and holding his hand.

"It was just a connection that I made with this young gentleman just over tragedy,” Bruno said. “I feel in my heart no matter what happens to us in life, I want to be there for him for the rest of his life."

Bruno was about to get his insurance license, but now feels like he has a new calling.

"That turn of events made me realize that is not what I am put on this earth for. I want to be a paramedic,” Bruno said.