Heroes honored in Montgomery County for saving victims of two fiery car crashes

Published: Nov. 28, 2017 at 12:14 AM EST
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Heroes were honored for their quick action in saving people in two different Montgomery County car crashes during the month of October.

Montgomery County Sheriff Hank Partin said of honoring the six men during Monday's 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, whether it's here or in a big city. It's very important that we take the time to pat these folks on the back and say, 'Thank you. Because what you did was above and beyond, and no one else was doing it, but you did.'"

The first crash was on October 7 when Riner Firefighters Zach Duncan and Joey Griffith found a woman trapped from the wast down inside a flipped car, which was on fire.

After unsuccessfully trying to lift the car, Montgomery County Sheriff's Deputy Josh Oakley arrived.

The three were able to lift the car long enough for Carillion Police Officer Dwayne Janey to pull the driver out from under the car.

"It was straight adrenaline," Griffith said of lifting the car. "You see that person that was in need of help, you just run over there. I don't know how, it just happened. The car moved just enough."

Duncan added, "You just don't realize how much strength you've got until you have to use it, I guess."

The other incident happened on October 10 on Indian Valley Road when two Best Buy employees, Thomas Willis of Wytheville and Lucas Wilt of Christiansburg, noticed smoke coming from a crashed vehicle.

According to the Sheriff's Office, as the two got close to the car, they noticed an elderly driver next to it.

While Wilt called 911, Willis carried the driver to safety. Shortly after getting her away from the car, it exploded.

Sheriff Partin said if it wasn't for the two of them, she likely would have been severely injured or killed.

Wilt said of their act to help, "It was more just kind of like that sixth sense where you could just tell something wasn't right, in my opinion anyway."

Willis added, "It was just instincts. At no point in time did I think, 'Should I do this, should I not do this? Is what I'm doing the right thing or the wrong thing?' It was just there was somebody in need and that's what needed to be done."

The awards given Monday night were named for Corporal Eric Sutphin of the Sheriff's Office. He was killed in 2006 while searching for escaped inmate William Morva.

"So many people still remember him and just the fact that we could be associate with the award is always good," Griffith said.

"It's humbling," Duncan said. "It's very humbling, to be even mentioned in the same breath as someone like that is an honor."

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