Ft. Knox soldier who rescued driver from flaming truck says he'd 'never leave a fallen comrade'
A hero emerged from the smoke and ashes of a burning fuel tanker on a Kentucky highway.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- We now know the identity of the mystery man who pulled a driver from a flaming truck filled with 8,000 pounds of fuel on Mother's Day.
He serves at Fort Knox, and on Wednesday, he came out of the shadows to speak to the media for the first time, explaining how he ended up being in the right place at the right time to save a man's life.
"I didn't think about myself at that time," SFC Mario King said. "I just knew there was a guy who needed some help, and I was willing and able."
King and his wife, Sgt. Adriane King, both serve in the U.S. Army's Human Resources Command. They were heading back to the post in Radcliff from vacation in Atlanta, taking an unconventional route involving a lot of back roads. It put them at the intersection of Highway 150 and Highway 70 in Rockcastle County.
"My wife was driving at the time, and the next thing I know, I heard, 'Oh my god!'" King said.
The semi truck flipped and caught fire after colliding with a car trapping the driving inside the cab.
"I was screaming, 'You got to get him out!'" Adriane King said. "There were so many flames, so much smoke, and you just never knew what was gong to happen."
Mario King is the son of a firefighter. He's completed three tours in the Middle East with his 17 years of military service. He said his instinct kicked in that day.
"Never leave a fallen comrade," he said. "(The driver) said he couldn't feel his legs, couldn't move, so I just grabbed him from the waist down and lifted him out and drug him as far as I could away from the truck."
For weeks, people have talked of his heroism and wondered who was the "mystery man," especially after hearing the tale from Sam Hamilton.
"The guy who crawled in the truck is the hero," Hamilton told reporters at the scene of the crash. "That guy is amazing!..."
Hamilton was also trying to free the driver and ran to a nearby business looking for an object to break the window on the cab. Even after the window came down, Mario King was the only one who could free the driver.
"He wasn't leaving without him," Hamilton said.
But once his mission was accomplished and the truck driver was safe, Hamilton said he vanished, just like the Lone Ranger.
"He just left," Hamilton said. "We don't even know his name."
Many said it's an example of bravery and courage at it's best, but Mario King said there's a myth in this mystery. He says he never rode off into the sunset.
"The truth is I actually stuck around," he said. "It was just ... I didn't feel the need to be up in the forefront," Mario King said. "I really don't like the spotlight."
Sgt. Adriane King is quick to point out that two other men tried to get the driver from the truck. That driver is still recovering, and his daughter reached out to the Kings to thank them.
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