Heroes recognized

Police officers celebrated for heroics

Charley Gaines

Hartselle Enquirer

 

Two of Hartselle’s finest got top honors Wed., June 15, for their acts of bravery in a time of crisis on Feb. 21.

0fficers Brad Freeman and Patrick Niles received Hartselle Police Department’s Life Saving Medal at a ceremony. The department’s fourth-highest award was presented to the two men for their successful efforts in saving a man trapped in a burning vehicle earlier this year. It is the first time in the 10 years since the awards program was created that the honor has been awarded.

At about midnight on Feb. 21, Freeman said he was about to clock out at the end of his shift when the wreck came across dispatch.

“I was the first one there,” said Freeman, who is a traffic homicide investigator. “I saw the car on fire, got my fire extinguisher out of the trunk and ran to the car.” Freeman said he tried to get up under the vehicle to extinguish the flames and free Brad Bloodworth, 18. At that point, the flames hadn’t hit the inside of the vehicle, but it didn’t take long for things to get dangerous for both the driver and the officers.

“The fuel line was ruptured,” Hartselle Police Chief Ron Puckett said. “The fuel line was feeding the fire. After four fire extinguishers, it was still burning.”

Puckett said the wreck happened after Bloodworth’s vehicle ran off the road, hit a culvert and flipped over it landing upside down on the other side.

Niles got on the scene and helped Freeman try to control the flames to save Bloodworth’s life as the fire spread. Even with flames licking the inside of the vehicle and, according to Puckett, getting so hot it was melting the dashboard right in front of Bloodworth’s face, the two officers stayed on task trying to save the teen as they waited for Hartselle Fire Department to get to the scene.

“Our officers respond to a lot of situations where they do life-saving techniques, but this is a situation where we had officers go above and beyond,” Puckett said. “You would expect every officer to put the fire out and stay with the victim, but once the fire gets that hot, it’s really easy for guys just to step back and say ‘Hey, sorry. The fire department is coming,’ but they stayed right there with him even after fire and EMTs got on the scene. It was worthy of recognition.”

Bloodworth was freed from the burning vehicle after firefighters were able to put out the fire and was flown by helicopter to the hospital. Bloodworth was at the award ceremony for the two officers who saved his life early that February morning. He’s added a few pins to his leg, but otherwise made a full recovery after injuries primarily to his legs, according to Freeman.

Both Puckett and Freeman admitted these types of situations are just part of the job.

“I’m glad he’s here and I’m glad we did it,” Freeman said nonchalantly, “but it’s what we do.”

 

 

 

 

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