It was a normal day for Shoi Delfin-Caballes and her children. Shoi pulled into a Shell gas station in Palm Harbor to fill up her SUV. Despite the rising gas prices, she has managed to keep her family supported throughout the raging pandemic. As Shoi was filling her SUV’s gas tank, a sixty-six-year-old woman backed into the gas pump, knocking it over and trapping Shoi in a dangerous situation.
After the minor crash, Shoi got pinned between the gas pump and her SUV. She simply could not escape as gas began to pour from the nozzle. Shoi’s fifteen-year-old daughter and eleven-year-old son jumped out of the car to try to save their mother, but there was nothing they could do. The gasoline erupted into a fireball that consumed Shoi, and the raging heat became so extreme neither her son nor daughter had a chance of pulling their mother to safety.
Shoi’s children tried to use a fire extinguisher to put out the flames, but the fire was out of control. A panhandler named Jared Pierson ran across the street and, with the help of a friend, pulled Shoi’s children away from the flames before the fire could make the gas station explode.
Pierson did not know the children’s mother was caught in the fire. It was not until he had brought them to safety near his begging station that they told him what horrors had just occurred.
“Apparently, she was pinned against the gas tank – the gas pump – and her vehicle,” Pierson said. “By the time I was crossing the street, it was all a giant fireball. All I could do was pull the kids away, and we all had to go across the way. Because I thought the gas station was gonna go up in flames.”
Now Florida State Troopers are trying to get to the bottom of the tragedy. They claim that the sixty-six-year-old driver backed her Nissan into the gas pump. The pump fell onto Shoi while she was pumping gas into her SUV. Within moments, the spilled gasoline “erupted in flames,” according to troopers.
Sgt. Steve Gaskins confirmed that the two children were in the SUV when the fire erupted. They tried to save their mother when Pierson, a Good Samaritan, ran over and pulled the children away from the blazing inferno.
“The kids wouldn’t leave my side and my buddy’s side, so we let them sit with our bum gear, and that’s when we found out their mom was trapped in the car,” he said. “I didn’t see the mother in the car. It was all in flames when I got up to it.”
Pierson said that if he knew their mother was trapped, he would have tried something.
“I’m just relieved that the babies didn’t get hurt, and if I would’ve known – you always say the what-ifs and all that, you know,” he said. “I just wish I would have known earlier where the mom was. If I would have known the mom was pinned there, something would have been different. I couldn’t find the mom. That’s what really hurts.”
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