Good Samaritans recognized by Norwalk mayor for saving man on fire

Four men jumped into action late last month along the Norwalk River behind Planet Pizza and Wayback Burgers to help a man living along the river. At the time, his campfire was burning out of control.

Mark Sudol

May 14, 2024, 4:57 PM

Updated 4 days ago

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Good Samaritans in Norwalk were recognized Tuesday for their heroism in saving a man's life while he was on fire.
Four men jumped into action late last month along the Norwalk River behind Planet Pizza and Wayback Burgers to help a man living along the river. At the time, his campfire was burning out of control.
"It was a really scary moment," said Wayback Burgers manager Jomar Orejuela.
Workers at the two restaurants saw the flames and could hear the man’s screams.
"He was unconscious for a little bit of it, and I think it was because of how much pain he was in," said Orejuela.
Dave Kuban and James Clifford from Planet Pizza, Orejuela, and Norwalk resident Michael Riina pulled 60-year-old Lee Richards up the steep banks of the river to safety until first responders arrived.
Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling handed out certificates to these good Samaritans to applaud their bravery.
"It's really remarkable when you have citizens who put their lives in danger to save somebody else," said Rilling.
"We were all able to pull this dude to safety and it was definitely scary and intense…thankfully, we were able to act quick and make that happen for him," said Orejuela.
Officials say Richards suffered burns to 47% of his body. He was airlifted to the Bridgeport Burn Center, where he is being treated for his severe injuries.
"It's going to be a long process but he's going to be alright and he's going to make it so that's the best part about it all," said James Clifford from Planet Pizza.
Clifford said Richards' family reached out to him to offer thanks and a reward. He turned down the reward but said he invites Richards to come into Planet Pizza when he recovers so they can share a meal together.


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