Pleasantville Middle School principal Briggitte White, left, with Carlos Molina and North Main Street Elementary principal Nannette Stuart-Pitts Wednesday. Molina was honored for rescuing his former music teacher from under her car last week.

Anjalee Khemlani

PLEASANTVILLE — When 14-year-old Carlos Molina walked away from a grocery store last week, he didn’t anticipate the trip home would include performing a rescue.

Molina, an eighth-grade student at Pleasantville Middle School, was walking home along North Main Street about 6 p.m. Feb. 26 when he heard a female voice screaming for help.

Looking toward the parking lot of North Main Street Elementary School, he saw a woman on the ground with her leg stuck under a car. That woman was Betty O’Shea, the school’s music teacher as well as a former teacher of Molina.

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“He came running up to me with his grocery bags and threw the bags aside, and he asked me, ‘Ms. O’Shea, how can I help you?’” O’Shea said in a phone interview Wednessday.

O’Shea doesn’t remember how long she was under the car, but she said she was relieved when Molina arrived. She also doesn’t remember exactly how the incident happened, but she said it had started raining when she was getting into her 2009 Honda Civic hybrid. She remembers putting it into reverse and reaching down to pick up something from the floor of her car. The door wasn’t completely shut.

The police report states that O’Shea exited her vehicle looking for her cellphone that she had dropped between the two front seats.

“It happened so fast,” she said. “It was a freak accident.”

Molina was able to put the car into park and push the car forward so it rolled off her right leg, he said. He then hoisted her into the driver’s seat, ran into the building and asked the janitors to call 911.

After emergency response workers arrived and he told police what happened, Molina went home. He remembers telling his parents and younger sister about what happened, but no one else.

For a week, he went about his daily routine without telling any of his friends about the incident.

“It’s nothing for them to know,” he said. “I didn’t want the attention.”

But he got it anyway after the principal of the elementary school, Nannette Stuart-Pitts, learned that it was a former student who helped save O’Shea.

“We at North Main Elementary School really appreciate your heroic acts,” Stuart-Pitts said to Molina on Wednesday. “If you hadn’t come along, we don’t know how long she would have been on the ground, or how extensive her injuries would have been.”

His friends found out about the incident after Superintendent Garnell Bailey made an announcement over the public address system Wednesday morning.

“They said they were proud of me,” Molina said.

The 5-foot-4-inch student who is active in sports — and specifically likes mixed martial arts — never thought his strength could have a real-world application.

“My sister told her teacher the next day that ‘my brother is really strong,’” Molina said.

The school district honored him with a free lunch, a gift card and an iPod.

Miriam Zuniga, Molina’s mother, said she was happy her son was able to help his teacher. She remembers being concerned when he arrived late from the grocery store but was happy he did such a heroic deed.

O’Shea was transported to Shore Medical Center in Somers Point, where she underwent surgery. She is in rehabilitation and said she doesn’t know whether she will be back for the remainder of the school year.

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