Sometimes a hero is just an everyday person with an exceptional event thrust at him.
Five Bayfield and Ignacio-area residents and employees were honored Tuesday by the Southwest Colorado chapter of the American Red Cross at the organization's annual breakfast celebrating local heroes.
They literally saved the lives of three people.
Sheriff Duke Schirard told those gathered at the event that Luke Harrington had a doubly difficult task on Sept. 26, 2013. Not only was he saving the life of a fellow police officer, he was saving his dad. A horse had reared and fallen over on Jim Harrington in the back country above Vallecito, causing massive head and chest injuries. Harrington started CPR, dragged his father into a pickup truck and drove him to the nearest Upper Pine fire station.
Without his son's heroic actions, Jim Harrrington "would certainly have died," Schirard said.
Also honored on Tuesday were two sergeants and one officer at the Southern Ute Detention Center.
Their boss, Chris Mimmack, director of the center, admitted that running a jail is sometimes difficult. When an inmate attempted suicide last year, three officers got him out of his cell and started treatment within seconds. The inmate had a ligature on his neck and had collapsed. Sgt. Dominic Vasquez, Sgt. Alford Hanna and Officer Brian Weiss were honored for their quick actions and starting CPR. After the presentation of their certificates, Mimmack said Vasquez had just completed a 10-hour shift when the incident occurred, and he had to accompany the inmate on a flight to a neurological facility in Littleton, so he ended up working a 28-hour day. Weiss was a new probation officer at the time of the incident, Mimmack added.
"We are exceptionally proud of them," he said.
Also honored was Scott Key, Bayfield's director of parks and recreation, who pulled two women out of a burning car in May of 2013 after one of them drove into a traffic light near Three Springs. This was a "tremendous act of heroism," said Sgt. Ben Sleger of the Colorado State Patrol. One woman died at the scene, but her sister survived.