32-year-old Aaron Tucker was on his way to a job interview, a mere seven days after he was released from prison, when he saw an overturned car in the middle of the road.
The Bridgeport, Connecticut, resident was convicted of a weapons charge, and served nearly two years in prison. When he was discharged in June of this year, he made it his mission to find stable work.
“I got locked up three weeks before my son was born,” Tucker told CBS News. “When he was born, I got a phone call from the hospital. I heard my son crying in the background, and right then and there I was like, ‘I’m changing my life.'”
After he was released, he moved into a halfway house and was set on finding stable employment—he meant to take care of his son. He found one, and was on his way to an interview when he came across a fork in the road: a job, or saving someone’s life.
He was on the bus that morning and dozed off but as the bus came to a stop, he was jolted awake. He opened his eyes to find a car, overturned in the middle of the street. It had smashed into a tree, the driver was bleeding, and smoke wafted from the hood.
The bus driver’s inaction spurred Tucker to speak up.
“Are you going to help him?” Tucker asked the bus driver.
The bus driver told Tucker that he would not, according to CBS News, because he had to stick to his route. Moreover, he told Tucker that if he were to get off the bus, he would not be allowed back on.
There was no hesitation. Despite the possibility of losing this opportunity to find a job Tucker jumped off the bus. That was when the fire started—flames licked the hood of the car. Tucker worked fast. He unbuckled the driver’s seatbelt, and talked to the man.
“Your family wants to see you,” Tucker told the man according to CBS News. “Keep your eyes open.”
Having noticed the commotion, two local auto-workers rushed over. One carried a fire extinguisher, and he worked to put out the fire. The other helped Tucker pull the man out. While the man was removed from the car without further injury, he was in bad shape.
“The guy had a lot of blood coming from his head,” Tucker recalled.
When ambulances arrived, the 61-year-old man was carted off to the local hospital. Thanks to Tucker, he is alive and now in stable condition. While an incredible act of heroism, though, Tucker is now out of a job—and has no way of taking care of his son. Still, he has no regrets.
“I feel like a job can come and go, but a life is one time thing,” Tucker told CBS News.
But then his story was published by a local news station.
Almost overnight he was receiving well-wishes and donations from strangers. Some offered to help him with his job search, others sent clothes.
Karen Dale was especially inspired by his example. Dale tracked him down and called the halfway house where Tucker was staying. She then proposed setting up a GoFundMe page for him, and, as of this writing, it has reached over $50,000 in donations in only three days.
“No matter what happened in the past, he’s a good guy and he needs a break,” Dale told ABC News. “I think he’s proven what his character’s like.”
Tucker was overwhelmed by their generosity.
“I feel that they’re better people than me, taking the time out to help me and my son,” Tucker told ABC News.
Keen to use that money to provide a better life for his 21-month-old son, Tucker plans on starting a college fund for him.
Today, he has no shortage of job offers, and he and Dale have struck up a friendship. After his interview, the two have decided to celebrate by taking their sons out for dinner.
Still, despite his celebrity and newfound success, Tucker remains humble.