Five people from a neighborhood in Truesdale received awards, applause and public recognition this week for the heroic actions they took to save an elderly neighbor from an overnight house fire in …
Five people from a neighborhood in Truesdale received awards, applause and public recognition this week for the heroic actions they took to save an elderly neighbor from an overnight house fire in January.
In the early morning hours of Jan. 19, residents of Laura Street in Truesdale heard a sound like an explosion, and looked outside to see a fire destroying the home of their neighbor, Connie Hall. Realizing that Hall had not exited the house, and that she was likely trapped inside because of a mobility handicap, Eric Johns, James Hilbig, James Galloway, Adam Biondo, and Ashton Dabbs rushed to her rescue.
While four of the men broke through Hall’s bedroom window, Ashton Dabbs, a 17-year-old junior firefighter, entered the home.
“Ashton forced entry into the home and made his way on the floor under near zero visibility to her bedroom. Ashton then lifted and maneuvered Connie through her small bedroom window to awaiting neighbors, exited the home and began assessing her injuries while waiting for responding units,” announced Warrenton Fire Chief Anthony Hayeslip, before presenting Dabbs with the fire district’s Heroic Life Saving Award at a ceremony on March 20.
This was the first of several rounds of awards presented to the five rescuers during the Monday night ceremony. Each of them received awards from Hayeslip, from Missouri State Fire Marshal Tim Bean, and from Truesdale Mayor Chris Watson.
“I live just two blocks away from all these gentlemen,” commented Mayor Watson. “To know that I live in a community where neighbors do help neighbors; where you’re not just thinking about your life or your safety, you’re thinking about somebody else’s; it’s very significant in our community.”
Watson added that he has known Connie Hall since he was in high school, and that it was an emotional moment to learn that her house had burned, but that she had survived.
“To know that she recovered, thanks to you guys. I can’t thank you enough,” Watson said.
The most meaningful thanks of the evening, though, came from Hall herself. After spending several weeks in the hospital recovering from smoke inhalation, Hall was able to attend the Monday ceremony and speak to her neighbors in person. She didn’t say much as she got choked up with emotion, but she managed to express the most important words.
“Thank you for saving my life. Thank you so much, is all I can say,” Hall said through tears. Later, after she’d had a bit of time to arrange her thoughts, Hall also joked that “It’s nice to see people other than doctors and nurses.”
The final award of the evening was a simple hug from Sherry Smart, one of Connie Hall’s close friends, given to all of the men who participated in Hall’s rescue.
“That’s my best friend, and they saved her,” Smart told those gathered.
Smart later told The Record that Hall is in need of money to replace her powered wheelchair that was destroyed, to make repairs to her home that won’t be covered by insurance, and potentially to pay medical bills. Smart said anyone who would like to help can write a check to Connie Hall and mail it to 281 W. Veterans Memorial Parkway, Box #700, Warrenton, MO 63383.
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