Spirit of Courage Award- Michael Keeley, Amanda Nelson, Allison Rea, David Antico, and Shawn Purvis
On Thursday, May 5, 2022, Santee Fire Department Chief John Garlow presented the 2022 Spirit of Courage Award to Michael Keeley, Allison Rea, David Antico, and Shawn Purvis
October 11, 2021 started as a bright, sunny, and unremarkable morning in Santee. Kids were at school just down the street. Shawn Purvis was unloading groceries. David Antico was eating breakfast. A few blocks over, neighbors Amanda Nelson, Allison Rea, and Michael Keeley were going about their morning routines in their homes.
Some heard the loud whine of an engine way too close to their homes, others reacted a few seconds later when they felt their houses shake and heard a loud explosion. Without a thought, each of these individuals ran outside to see what had happened. Thick, black smoke had already started billowing. Amanda, Allison, Michael, and David all took off running to the smoke while Shawn jumped in his car and drove toward the accident.
At the time, no one knew that the whining engine sound, the explosion, and the smoke was caused by a twin-engine plane crash in their neighborhood, but these five unrelated individuals didn’t let that stop them from running toward the danger. What they saw was straight from a nightmare – a UPS truck already consumed by flames, a house with almost all the rooms on fire, and sounds of explosions from places unknown continuing to scream through the air.
“Oh my God, what if someone is in the house?” You can hear them shout from the video Amanda or the incident
David, Michael, Amanda, and Allison all ran to the one open window that wasn’t roaring with flames, and quickly realized their elderly neighbor was inside, disoriented, and looking for her dog. They quickly worked together to clear the window and pull the woman out of the house as the fire raced to consume what was left untouched.
Shawn arrived in his car and saw the group helping the woman and turned his attention when he heard yelling coming from the backyard. The fire had spread from the house to the backyard so quickly it resembled a fast-moving wildfire. The husband was already burned, pink where hair should be and blisters on his feet. Shawn quickly assessed the situation and asked permission to tear down the fence. Ripping the fence down with his hands and with the assistance of other neighbors, Shawn was able to break down the barrier and pull the husband to safety.
Everyone became separated, Michael stayed with the wife and got her to safety and Allison ran down the street knocking on doors. She guided one elderly man out of his house, and then helped a young girl and her dog to safety.