Three Putnam County men have been honored for their heroic acts in saving the lives of two motorists following a fiery car crash in May on Ind. 240.
In a brief ceremony conducted in the rotunda of the Putnam County Courthouse Wednesday evening, good Samaritans Joe Pilcher, Mark Legan and Greg Parker were recognized for "putting themselves in harm's way" when they pulled motorist Anthony Hicks and passenger Melinda Wallace from their burning car.
"We feel it's very necessary to recognize these individuals," Greencastle Fire Chief Bill Newgent said in recounting the events on the morning of May 26 near CR 775 East.
The incident occurred around 7:30 a.m. when the eastbound car went off the road and traveled about 400 feet in a ditch before hitting a culvert on the north side of the road.
Pilcher, Legan and Parker were in separate vehicles in the area and saw the accident occur. They also saw the flames coming from the front end of the car and knew they had to act fast.
Both Hicks and Wallace were unconscious when their rescuers reached the car and pulled the two to safety.
Deputy Tom Helmer of the Putnam County Sheriff's Dept. arrived at the scene within five minutes of the accident being reported, and the car was engulfed by flames at that time.
Newgent emphasized that Hicks and Wallace would have burned to death before firefighters arrived at the scene if they had not been rescued by Legan, Pilcher and Parker.
Sheriff Mark Frisbie added his praise to the three men's efforts, reading a quote from Sir Robert Peel, a 19th century British prime minister who is best remembered as the originator of the modern concept of the police force. Frisbie summarized Peel's statement as "It's all of our responsibility to take care of each other," and that's what these men did.
Frisbie presented the men certificates recognizing meritorious assistance from the Indiana Sheriff's Association.
Rounds of applause also honored the heroic trio as Michael Bigler, chief deputy state fire marshal and fire emergency service director, presented certificates and medals to Pilcher, Legan and Parker.
Following the ceremony, Wallace and Hicks both spoke with their rescuers, expressing their thanks. Wallace, who was walking with crutches due to a foot injury, said she did not remember being pulled from the car by Legan or being transported for medical treatment.
Hicks, who attended the ceremony carrying his nine-month-old daughter Daisha, also thanked the three men and spoke with emergency personnel who were at the scene. He said he had learned a lesson about driving more carefully.
And family members of Wallace individually conveyed their thanks to the three men as well.