WKYT | Lexington, Kentucky | News

Three honored for saving Frankfort woman from fire

By: Tim Johnston Email
By: Tim Johnston Email
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Call him a Deputy, call him Monty Chappell, but don't call him a "hero."

"You know, I'm uncomfortable with the term 'hero,'" reacted Franklin County Sheriff's Deputy Monty Chappell.

If you do, he'll tell you he's just doing his job, "Everyday you got to make a difference."

On February 5th, he made a big difference along with two other men. Together they jumped in to help pull a woman from her burning home.

"We all went outside to see what was going on and the house was on fire," recalled Jess Thompson, a contractor who was working on a nearby home.

"I was wanting to bust the door down immediately, but I couldn't," remembered David Chadwell, Thompson's employee and friend.

The men called 911, but were told to standby.

The call came out just as Deputy Chappell's shift was ending, "I made it almost to my driveway when I heard the call come out."

The deputy who normally serves as the school resource officer, was actually on patrol that day because school was cancelled due to snow.

"The streets were bad, lots of ice still on the road, so I knew that the response time would be slower," described the deputy.

Time was not a luxury in this nightmare scenario.

"He kicked down the door," Thompson said of the deputy's first move, but the door barely budged.

Deputy Chappell said something was behind the door. He reached behind the door and realized it wasn't something, but rather someone.

"I felt an arm, so I knew that was the victim behind the door."

The problem was visibility. Deputy Chappell said the smoke was so thick that he could feel the woman on the floor but couldn't see his own hand.

"I went in first, on my knees, and we discovered there was a person there," said Thompson, "Then Chadwell, he's such a big guy, we got her out."

They got away with just moments to spare. Deputy Chappell said just minutes later the fiery ceiling collapsed where they had just been. The woman is still recovering at Vanderbilt University Hospital, in Nashville. Franklin County Sheriff Pat Melton said the last report is she had second degree burns and other complications.

On Thursday, they're selfless actions earned them the "Certificate of Valor," a rarely presented honor by the State Fire Marshal.

"Kentucky has experienced a high number of fatalities, this year. Without the actions of these individuals we could've had another lead story about another fatality," said William Swope, the State Fire Marshal, in the ceremony.

"It's a bit too much, but I feel great about it," reacted Chadwell after the honors were handed out.

"We just happened to be there because God put us there," said Thompson.

"It took all of us," said Deputy Chappell.

They may have run into a burning home, but if you call them a "hero" they'll turn and run the other way.


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