John Essex students praised for bravery

Published 9:44 pm Friday, May 8, 2009

On April 24, a homemade aircraft crashed about 150 yards from John Essex High School.

With the shock of the situation still settling in, 13 John Essex students along with John Essex coach Rodney Dixon, custodian Ronald Smith and principal Loretta McCoy took action to aid the pilot, not knowing at the time if he had survived the crash or not.

Smith contacted emergency personnel, while Dixon and the students ran out to the crash site, doing their best to extinguish the fire.

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The pilot, Mark E. Keeley of Forkland, did not survive the crash, but that should not diminish the heart and courage of these people in their efforts to do the right thing.

The Demopolis Fire and Rescue Department thought so, too, and presented the students and JEHS staff with certificates of bravery at the school on Friday.

DFRD chief Ronnie Few praised the students for putting themselves in harm’s way in an effort to help someone.

He offered the department to help the students with any counseling they may need to help them come to terms with the horrific scene they faced, yet continued to fight.

That kind of heart and bravery can be seen in adults, but to see young people — some still years from high school graduation — put forth an effort for the sake of another person is inspiring.

Also inspiring is to see role models like the Demopolis Fire and Rescue Department step forward and present the students and staff with certificates rewarding them for their bravery and cool-headed thinking during such a crisis.

That not only tells them that they did, indeed, do the right thing, but it also encourages them to continue to do the right thing.

They went into the crash scene not thinking about any rewards, and that speaks volumes for these brave people.