A Florida mother of five was killed in a horrific fire when a car backed into a gas station pump, causing it to overturn on her and erupt into flames – in front of two of her kids sitting inside their vehicle.
Shoi Caballes was filling up her 2018 Honda SUV at a Shell gas station in Palm Harbor about 2 p.m. Wednesday when a 66-year-old woman backed her 2006 Nissan sedan into the pump, WFLA reported.
The pump fell onto Caballes, pinning her between it and her vehicle when the gas “erupted in flames,” troopers told the news outlet.
Caballes, whose children range in age from elementary school to college, had two of her children with her at the time of the tragedy – an 11-year-old boy and a 14-year-old girl, who were sitting inside the SUV.
The children jumped out of the vehicle and tried to save their mother, Highway Patrol Sgt. Steve Gaskins told WFLA.
A good Samaritan ran over to pull the kids to safety when he saw them using a fire extinguisher to put out the flames.
Jared Pierson told the news outlet that he was panhandling with a friend nearby when he heard the accident.
He said he didn’t see anyone inside the SUV, but that by the time he realized the mom was trapped, it was too late to help.
“Apparently she was pinned against the gas tank – the gas pump – and her vehicle,” Pierson told WFLA.
“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,” he said.
“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,” Pierson said.
He said he would have tried to do more if he had known Caballes was trapped.
“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,” Pierson told the station.
“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,” he added.
The Nissan driver was not believed to be impaired and will not face criminal charges, a police spokesperson told WFLA.
On Thursday night, hundreds of people attended a prayer service for Caballes at St. Ignatius of Antioch Parish in Tarpon Springs.
“To honor my mom, we ask you to wear a form of White and Blue, those were some of her favorite colors,” one of her sons wrote on Facebook. “My mommy was never a fan of the all black.”