Archive for Wednesday, March 19, 2003

A Profile in Courage

March 19, 2003

An author once said at one time or another every person is confronted with circumstances requiring courage. In that moment, they stand at a fork in the road, choosing which path to follow.

Colby Fisher, a junior at Basehor-Linwood High School and an employee of Brewer's Price Chopper in Bonner Springs, chose the right path Saturday, March 15.

At approximately 11:15 a.m., Saturday, Fisher, 17, was on his lunch break and preparing to get something to eat.

On his way out of the grocery store parking lot, he noticed a two-door, pickup truck fuming smoke, with flames shooting from the front of the vehicle's grille work.

But even more astonishing than the fire itself, was what Fisher noticed inside the vehicle: Ruby Herd, an 85-year-old Bonner Springs woman suffering from Alzheimer's disease, sat conscious in the passenger seat.

"I got to looking and the paint was starting to bubble," Fisher said. "I saw there was an old lady sitting inside and I said 'ma'am, ma'am your car is on fire'. She was kind of staring into space. I'm not sure she knew what was happening."

With the smoke and fire increasing, precious little time was available. Fisher unlatched Herd's seatbelt, swept her up in his arms, and carried her 20 feet away from the wreckage.

Seconds later, the truck became fully engulfed in flames -- the heat so intense the truck's front tires blew apart and the vehicle's hood flew open.

Fisher quickly dialed 911.

A Bonner Springs Police Department incident report indicates an officer responding to the scene "observed heavy black smoke in the air in the vicinity of Price Chopper which was still two to three miles away."

Bill Herd, Ruby's husband, was inside the store, filling a prescription at the time of the incident. When he saw the fire, he rushed to the scene but was blocked by firefighters.

Assured his wife was safe, Herd nearly collapsed.

Fisher, and the Herd couple, were examined by paramedics at the scene and released without being transported to the hospital.

The charred remains of the truck sit at Tiger Tow in Bonner Springs. There is not yet a known reported cause for the fire, according to reports.

Today, Bill thanks Fisher for his heroic efforts and credits the teen with saving Ruby's life.

"I would have lost my wife if he hadn't have been there," he said. "I sure appreciate it. A lot of people would have ducked their head and run."

Fisher said he doesn't normally work the shift he did Saturday morning. But saving the elderly woman from the burning truck was perhaps more divine intervention than happenstance, he said.

"My dad said God put me there at that time for a reason," he said. "I'm thinking that played a big part of it. Something was definitely watching over us and protecting us."

His mother, Sherry, agrees.

"I think so," she said. "The way it sounded his guardian angel was looking after him."

Fisher was back at work Monday morning.

Due credit and praise has been heaped upon him since his selfless efforts.

The Herd family has repeatedly thanked Fisher, an anonymous Lee's Summit woman has pledged to send him a "small reward" and a local volunteer fire department has been clamoring for him to join its program.

But in typical, humble, hero fashion, Fisher said he doesn't feel like a hero and is just happy that no one was injured.

However, there can be little doubt that Fisher chose the path of courage Saturday morning.

"Something like that happens and you don't even think about it, about what could happen," he said. "It doesn't really change a person. The lady made it OK, so I'm happy about that. It's just the way I was raised -- to help people."

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