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Larry Sprinkle surprises the firefighter who saved him six years ago as the firefighter retires

Firefighters from Fire Station 32 were among the first responders who quickly arrived at the scene after Larry Sprinkle was in a life-threatening crash in 2016.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Six years after the wreck that almost took the life of Larry Sprinkle, he was able to thank the firefighter who saved him on a special day for that firefighter. 

On May 4, 2016, Sprinkle was driving on I-485 during the late afternoon rush, with traffic moving at a steady pace. Then, Sprinkle remembers traffic stopped abruptly.

"Not seeing the brake lights, I slam into a large pickup truck," Sprinkle said. "The front of my car is totally demolished. People in the truck are OK... me, that's another story."

Sprinkle has said the moments after the crash were like a huge blur.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Larry Sprinkle thanks rescuers that saved him 1 year after harrowing crash

"The dashboard was on my chest," Sprinkle said a year after the crash, recalling the details. 

Firefighters from Ballantyne's Fire Station 32 were among the first responders who quickly arrived at the scene. One of those firefighters was Pete Baretsky. 

Sprinkle broke both legs, a knee, a wrist and fractured several ribs. He was in the hospital and in physical therapy for months. At certain points, he worried he'd never return to TV.

“There were periods of time,” Sprinkle previously told Ben Thompson. “I'm in a wheelchair, I can't walk, and I really thought am I ever gonna be back?”

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Baretsky helped to save his life and offer comfort. 

He was at Sprinkle's side the whole time, including when Sprinkle asked him if he'd come with him to the hospital.

"He was having the worst day of his life and we only have one chance to make a difference, and apparently we did it right that day," Baretsky said a year after the crash, speaking to Michelle Boudin.  

Years later, Sprinkle was able to surprise Baretsky as he was celebrating his retirement after 25 years at the same station. 

"Oh my god, Larry Sprinkle," Baretsky said when he saw Sprinkle. "How are you?"

Sprinkle and Baretsky were able to reflect as Baretsky celebrates a major milestone. 

"This is a great occasion for a guy that has been there and terrible times to do tremendous things like fighting building fires, forest fires, pulling people out of burning cars, helping people who are survivors of floods and hurricanes," Sprinkle said. "And he was there to help me."

Baretsky said he's glad to feel like he had an impact. 

"It just humbles you because you know you made a difference," Baretsky said. "And that's the thing that this job is about is making a difference because most people, as you know, are having the worst day of their life. And if you can make a difference -- makes you feel really good."

Sprinkle says to him, Baretsky is a hero. 

Contact Larry Sprinkle at lsprinkle@wcnc.com and follow him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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