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The Sacramento Bee : Saved from wrecked, burning car, survivor gets to thank men who saved him

Leaning on crutches and balancing on his right leg, Chris Cvitanov fought back tears Thursday morning as he faced the men who pulled his mangled body from the searing wreckage of a car nearly eight years ago.

“I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to come here,” he told five uniformed firefighters and paramedics who gathered around him inside Roseville Fire Department No. 1 on Oak Street. “I just wanted to thank you for saving my life.”

Cvitanov, 38, of Citrus Heights, was not always grateful to have survived a crash that left him with burns over 45 percent of his body.

He lost his left leg. His lower body was so badly burned that “I didn’t feel like a man anymore,” he said. He spent nearly three months in the hospital, where his body shriveled from 165 pounds to 102. After his release, he ditched sobriety and started using cocaine again. He considered ending it all.

Then he had an epiphany, triggered in part by meeting and marrying “the love of my life,” his wife, Aimee.

“She showed me what unconditional love means,” he said. “She taught me that I am no less of a man because of my injuries. She taught me to love myself.”

Now, he said, he believes that his accident happened for a reason, “to make me a better man, a better person,” and a better father to his two children by a previous marriage. To that end, he said, he wanted to meet the men who rescued him.

The firefighters appeared visibly moved by Cvitanov’s visit.



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