Sam Davilmar earns an award for rescuing a sheriff's deputy from his overturned car

GULF BREEZE — Sam Davilmar doesn’t see himself as a hero, but when he came into work Tuesday afternoon, he was met by at least a dozen people who do.

The Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office rewarded the 22-year-old for rescuing a deputy from an overturned car last week.

Davilmar was at Wendy’s on Gulf Breeze Parkway on Friday afternoon buying his niece a Frosty when he heard a crash across the street. Deputy Stephen Clark was driving west when a vehicle attempting to make a U-turn struck him. His Dodge Charger patrol vehicle overturned several times and landed upside down in a ditch.

Several people stopped and tried to remove Clark from the car, but had no luck. Davilmar ran to the scene and mustered up enough strength to pry the door open.

“I don’t remember how hard it was to open,” Davilmar said. “I just had a lot of adrenaline.”

Clark was taken to the emergency room with minor injuries, but his daughter, Kyle Clark, said he kept mentioning the man who saved him.

“A lot of people came to help my dad, but Sam was the one that stood out to him the most,” she said.

The next day, Kyle discovered through Facebook that Davilmar worked in the deli at Winn-Dixie in Gulf Breeze. So she went to the store to thank him herself.

Deputy Clark and his family, Davilmar’s family and several first responders surprised him at work Tuesday with a civilian merit award for his actions.

“We help people all the time,” Sheriff Bob Johnson said. “It’s very rare that we need help, but it’s great that we have people like you who come along and help. ... We just thank God you were there.

“So we’re presenting you with this little award here, but it seems like a small token compared to what you did.”

They even thanked Davilmar’s niece, Christine, who begged him to get her a Frosty, because it caused him to be in the right place at the right time.

“It was a series of fortunate events," Clark's wife Karen said. "Well, unfortunate, but turned out to be fortunate.”

Although Davilmar has worked at Winn-Dixie for less than a month, his manager Carl Markland says he is exactly the type of employee they look for.

“As big as he is, he’s just the sweetest, most lovable guy,” Markland said. “He exemplifies what we try to do here.”

Davilmar — who stands 6 feet, 5 inches — was born in Haiti and moved with his family to Florida when he was 12. He says his dream is to one day become a firefighter because he loves helping people.

“I’d do it again and again for you,” Davilmar told Deputy Clark. “I’m not a hero. I’m just the person God wanted to be there. Every time I see someone in need of help, I try to help as much as I can.”