Teen rescues dog from burning vehicle in Haverhill parking lot

HAVERHILL, Mass. — Alex Gabriel was grocery shopping at the Market Basket in Haverhill when a car in the parking lot burst into flames.

The 17-year-old's adrenaline kicked in when he saw a dog trapped inside.

"As the smoke started to get thicker, was when I thought, 'This isn’t right,'" he said Tuesday.

Flames started shooting right into the front seats.

Alex sprung into action. He used his elbow to smash through the back seat window, pulling the frightened dog to safety.

"I was trying to keep smoke out of my eyes and just grabbed the dog by the scruff and just kind of lifted it out," he said.

He said he knew it was only a matter of seconds left until the entire vehicle went up in flames.

"Me being a car guy, I know tempered glass is really hard to break and so in the moment, I didn’t really think to grab anything else, so I had nothing in my hands, I just used what I got," he said.

His quick actions and strong arm saved the dog's life, and the owner is grateful.

"She gave me a big hug, she said, 'I don’t really care about the car right now.' She's like, 'You saved my dog,'" Alex said.

Alex said he'd do it all over again, cuts, bruises and all.

"When it happened, I just did what had to be done. I just had to get things rolling," he said.

Haverhill firefighters who responded to the scene called Alex's high school to let them know of his heroic actions. And Alex said that the dog's owner is stopping by his home to thank him again in person.