NORTHBOROUGH, Mass. – After rescuing a neighbor from a fire earlier this week, Mike O'Driscoll said he is not a hero, but just lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.
O'Driscoll is a butcher by profession who has owned O'Driscoll's Fresh Butchery in Northborough for nearly 20 years, but he seems to be making a habit of lifesaving.
During a fishing trip to Panama six years ago, O'Driscoll and three of his friends saved five people from drowning.
O'Driscoll and three other Northborough men, Mike Zecco, Dave Zecco and Dave Booth, were all on a fishing trip off the coast of Panama when they spotted another boat in trouble.
"We were heading in for the day and Dave saw a two by four with a white flag on it," O'Driscoll recalled. "The captain of our boat didn't want to go back, but we made him."
O'Driscoll said they found a capsized boat filled with five Peruvian refugees.
"We couldn't go in the water because of sharks, but one of the guys held me by belt and I reached in and pulled the people onto the boat," O'Driscoll said.
The refugees had been at sea for days, without food and water and trying to survive in the sinking ship.
"They told us that the night before a little boy had died and the captain of their ship had tried to swim to shore but didn't make it," O'Driscoll said.
The Northborough men were quick to offer food and water to those they had rescued.
"There's no doubt in my mind they wouldn't have survived if we hadn't gotten there when we did," O'Driscoll said.
At Tuesday night's fire, O'Driscoll was in the right place again when he and his girlfriend, Charlene Vandawalker, saw their neighbor Sara Johns' chimney at 53 Assabet Dr. on fire. Vandawalker called 911 while O'Driscoll rushed into the house to warn their neighbor.
"I went in the house and told her the chimney was on fire," O'Driscoll said. "I told her to put on her shoes, I grabbed the dog and we got out. She had no idea it was even on fire."
O'Driscoll said he could not help but think what would have happened if they weren't there.
"What if she had fallen asleep by the fireplace?" O'Driscoll said. "What if we had gone to bed early? I'm glad we were in the right place at the right time."
In both instances, O'Driscoll said he was just lucky enough to be there.
"It was all just a reaction to the action that was happening around me," O'Driscoll said.