Olympic sprinter David Verburg put his speed to good use on Sunday: The gold medalist in the 4x400-meter relay at the Rio Olympics stopped traffic to save a tortoise, which was inching its way slowly across a busy Florida intersection.
When Verburg spotted the animal in distress, he used his Olympic speed to sprint to the rescue.
“I actually almost hit the turtle myself. I had to swerve to miss it,” Verburg said in a Twitter message to Runner’s World. “I said ‘Damn, he is going to get crushed.’”
Verburg decided to help the lost animal out, so he drove to a turnaround and parked his car in the turning lane. He ran out to grab the tortoise—and captured the heroic act on camera, the footage from which he shared in a tweet.
Even with untied shoes, his speed allowed him to save the tortoise from a bad day—without having to interrupt traffic for very long, either.
Verburg thinks the little guy he rescued was a gopher tortoise, which live mainly on dry land. That could be how this one ended up in the middle of an intersection. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, they are protected by federal law under the Endangered Species Act, so if it was a gopher tortoise, it’s even more important that he moved the creature to safety.
“It happens all the time in Florida. I move a tortoise/turtle whenever I see one. I just so happened to catch this one on camera,” Verburg said.
DAVID WILL APPEAR ON THE ELLEN SHOW WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 21ST ON WESH TV