The Paradise School Board recognized a group of heroes among their staff and community in a special ceremony before their regular board meeting Monday.
Superintendent Monty Chapman presented medals “in recognition of your act of heroism in 2012″ to district technician Adam Hoots, school nurse Tammy Pewitt and seventh grader Martin Crawford and his dad, Ben. (Their mother and wife, Jennifer, is an elementary school special education teacher).
“We just feel it was important to recognize the excellence of our staff and our community members and do it in a public way in a public place,” Chapman said.
Hoots was one of several people who helped pull four males, who had become distressed while swimming in Wise County Park on Lake Bridgeport June 5.
“I was over next to the swimming beach area, about 50 yards away from it, and I noticed these kids were yelling, ‘Help! Help! Help!’,” Hoots recalled. “I thought they were joking at first, but their dad was in the water yelling, ‘Help!’ as well. So I ran over along with (a couple of other people), and we pulled the dad and two of the other kids out. The fourth boy, unfortunately, is no longer with us.”
Bridgeport High School senior Saul Rodriguez died in the incident.
According to authorities on the scene, it appears Rodriguez and his father had jumped in to save a younger brother and cousin, both about 14 years old, who were struggling.
“They weren’t very far out, maybe 20 to 30 yards,” said Sgt. Mike Neagle, investigator with the Sheriff’s Office. “But it appears that there is a big drop-off right there.”
Six bystanders helped pull the three others out, but Rodriguez went under.
After about 15 minutes, he was located, and CPR was performed at the lake before he was transported by ambulance to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
“But because of people like Adam who jumped in to help, other lives were saved,” Chapman said.
The previous weekend, the Tittor family had a similar scare. And like Hoots, selfless heroes were nearby. Fortunately, the outcome was favorable.
“Memorial Day weekend, we were grilling out at Ben and Jennifer’s, swimming and having a good time,” father Michael said. “We had just gotten out to eat and Lana had wandered back to the pool … and fell in the deeper part.
“Martin saw her, took her out and yelled for help, and Tammy and Ben did CPR,” he continued. “If it wasn’t for God putting the right people in the right place, we wouldn’t have our youngest daughter. But because of Him and these wonderful people, we do.”
Lana was flown to Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth to be monitored and was released less than 24 hours later.
“We’ve had this barbecue for four years, and Tammy had never been,” mother Melanie said. “In fact, she showed up to this one all dressed up nice. She’d come from another function, and we were all in swimsuits and shorts. We gave her a hard time saying, ‘Oh what are you doing here dressed like that? You’re too fancy for us.’
“And then this happens. God knew what He was doing.”
Chapman further praised the efforts of the four, highlighting the importance of quick thinking in an emergency situation and knowing CPR.
“Because of you, we have a future Panther still with us and a family has other family members,” he said. “I think our staff has really grown to appreciate – every year Tammy and Ms. Carmichael do a training of CPR for a whole lot of staff that is required for coaches, band directors, etc.
“But I’ve already had many, many comments of other staff members who say, ‘We’re going to take time to go through that ourselves.’,” he continued. “It’s going to mean a lot not only from that one or two events, but … maybe the more people get trained, the more lives that get saved.”
The Decatur Fire Department holds monthly CPR training sessions.
The next one is 8 to 11 a.m. Saturday, July 21.
For information, call (940) 627-3199.