MONTGOMERY COUNTY—Four first responders and two civilians were recognized for their heroics involving two separate car crashes, both of which had victims that were saved from burning vehicles.
Montgomery County Sherriff Hank Partin talked about the heroics of the six men at Monday’s regularly scheduled Board of Supervisors meeting.
“Heroic acts happen all around us everyday, and most of the time we don’t even realize that they’re happening,” he said. “It’s very important that we take the time to pat these folks on the back and say ‘thank you.’”
The incident involving the two civilians happened Oct. 10 when two Best Buy employees, Thomas Willis and Lucas Wilt, were driving on Indian Valley Road in Christiansburg. Returning to the store after a home-entertainment installation, Willis, 29, of Wytheville, said he noticed a burning smell and some debris on the road.
“It didn’t smell like a normal brush fire,” he said. “I just had a feeling that something wasn’t right.”
After driving a short distance past the area in question, the two Geek Squad members decided to turn around for further inspection. When they got out of their van, they saw a vehicle that had gone off the road down a steep embankment with smoke coming out of it.
When they got to the bottom of the hill, they found a woman lying a short distance from her vehicle, which had become engulfed in flames. Willis said that he knew moving an injured person before paramedics arrive is typically frowned upon, but that the burning vehicle left him no other option.
“I picked her up and started going up the hill, and before we even made it to the top, half of her vehicle was covered in flames,” Willis said. “It didn’t explode like in movies, but there were a lot of popping sounds.
Wilt, 24, of Christiansburg also played an instrumental role as he called the authorities and led them to the scene of the accident.
The two men said that the victim, Gail Serber, had several broken bones, but is recovering nicely and has since expressed her gratitude for their heroic actions.
“I’m just glad we didn’t decide to keep driving,” Willis said. “It would have been heartbreaking to find out later that we could have done something and didn’t.”
The incident involving the four first responders occurred Oct. 7 in Riner when firefighters Zach Duncan and Joey Griffith arrived on the scene of a crash to find a woman trapped upside down from the waist down in an overturned vehicle that was full engulfed in flames.
Griffith and Duncan’s attempt to lift the vehicle off of the woman was unsuccessful; but, just as they were deciding their next course of action, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Deputy Josh Oakley and Carilion Police Officer Dwayne Janey arrived on the scene.
With the help of two more men, they were able to lift the vehicle just enough for Janey to remove the woman. Griffith and Duncan provided medical treatment until the EMS arrived.
Partin said that in both instances, had the men not acted quickly and bravely, the victims would have certainly faced far more severe injuries and, likely, death.