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Kingsport police chief honors men who rescued crash victims

October 2nd, 2013 1:05 am by Matthew Lane

Kingsport police chief honors men who rescued crash victims

Five Citizens honored before the BMA by Police Chief David Quillin for their heroic actions at the Sept. 14 fiery traffic accident. (Photo by Ned Jilton)

KINGSPORT — Nothing short of heroic.

This is how Kingsport Police Chief David Quillin described the actions of five “Good Samaritans” who rushed to the scene of a fatal head-on collision last month and worked together to rescue the victims of the crash.

“For those in public safety, we respond to dangerous situations every day because that’s what we do. It’s our job. But we can’t be at the exact place, at the exact time,” Quillin said. “Every once in a while, members of our community are in the right place at the right time and decide to do the right thing.”

On Sept. 14, Dena Marie Riddle, 43, was allegedly driving her Acura 104 mph when it crossed into oncoming traffic on Fort Henry Drive. The Acura struck a Ford Expedition head-on, causing both vehicles to burst into flames. Riddle died at the scene,  while the driver of the SUV, Walter Tony Bellamy, 58, died three days later as a result of his injuries.

Justin Addington, Joe Erwin, Chris Faber, R.L. Williams and Brian Woliver pulled Bellamy, his wife and son from the Expedition and attempted to pull Riddle from the Acura, but the flames prevented them from doing so.

During a regular meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen Tuesday night, Quillin presented the five men with the police department’s Citizen Commendation Certificate and one of its “Challenge Coins”  —  normally given just to police officers.

“These five men were going about their daily business and were right there when (the crash) happened. What happened next is nothing short of heroic,” Quillin said. “They ran to the scene, battling flames and extreme heat in an effort to rescue the victims trapped in their vehicles.

“Had it not been for their prompt response and selfless actions, more lives would have been lost.”

Fire Chief Craig Dye also thanked the five men for their actions.

“I know how hot and dangerous it was,” Dye said. “We wear full bunker gear to fight car fires like this. I’m amazed by what you did and I want to thank you personally.”

Following the presentation, the five men received standing ovations from the BMA and those in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting.

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