OVIEDO, Fla. - Right place. Right time.
Suzanne Matos was headed to Dillard's at the Oviedo Mall in May when she saw flames coming out of a vehicle that was parked at the mall. Inside that vehicle were two children, aged two and four.
"I was shocked, absolutely shocked," Matos said. She immediately ran over to the vehicle to help.
"As soon as I grabbed the younger one, the car was already in flames inside. At that point, your adrenaline is kicking in," she said. "Out of instinct I just grabbed them and ran."
Matos, a teacher, was recognized Friday by the Oviedo Fire Department for her bravery and selfless act. She was awarded the Citizen Medal of Honor.
"There is no doubt that if Ms. Matos wasn’t there at that right time, that right place, and chose to put her safety at risk, it would have resulted in further injury," said Oviedo Fire Chief Michael Woodward.
Police said Alicia Moore, 24, was inside the mall allegedly shoplifting with another person when her car caught fire. An hour later, she walked toward the mall exit, saw her vehicle on fire, dropped the alleged stolen items, and ran outside, according to police.
Moore faces potential charges of first-degree arson, child neglect, driving with a suspended license, among other charges, according to online records.
Officials said both children suffered first-degree burns, according to court records.
Matos said she hopes her actions inspire others.
"People need to step up when they see something that isn’t right," she said. "Just do the right thing."