Polk County man dies a hero - FOX 13 News

Polk County man dies a hero

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LAKE ELOISE (FOX 13) -

Joseph "Sundance" Fernandez didn't look like Superman. He had a long beard, was a homeless Vietnam vet and a former Hell's Angel. But his friends thought of him as a hero, and what he did this past weekend seems to proves it.

He ran into Snively Avenue Apartments as the building burned, hoping to save the life of his disabled friend Jimmy Meeks. He couldn't, and Meeks died. Three days later, Sundance died in the hospital with severe burns.

"He was a constant servant, so being with him during his last seconds was a blessing and humbling," a friend, Jane Waters Thomas told FOX 13. Waters Thomas runs a local housing rehab program called "Doors2Change," and says Sundance was one of her best volunteers. He would be the first one at a project in the morning and the last to leave at night.

Despite his endless commitment to help others, Waters Thomas says Sundance didn't own much more than just the clothes on his back.

"Society looks at homeless people sometimes in a light that maybe they should stop and change that perspective just a little because he wasn't a homeless man," she said. "He was a human, and he did it better than anyone I know."

A memorial service will be held this Sunday at Snively Brooks Park on 9th Street in Eloise. It starts at 6 p.m.

The fire is still under investigation. However, investigators say a flame near an oxygen tank caused the tank to explode and the fire to quickly spread throughout the building.

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