Ky. inmate hailed as hero for saving lives after deadly tornado hit candle factory

Ky. inmate hailed as hero for saving lives after deadly tornado hit candle factory
Published: Feb. 25, 2022 at 5:07 PM EST
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GRAVES COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - A Graves County inmate is being hailed a hero after helping people buried under the debris of the candle factory in Mayfield after the December 10 tornado.

The sheriff says Marco Sanchez was working a work detail at the factory when the tornado hit. He was recently recognized by officials. A Facebook post about Marco is going viral.

February 22, 2022 Re: Sheriff's Meritorious Award presented today Today we would like to recognize a man, who went...

Posted by Graves County Sheriff's Office on Tuesday, February 22, 2022

It’s a night Sanchez will never forget, being inside the Mayfield candle factory as an EF-4 tornado collapsed the building on top of roughly 100 people.

“I heard wind, my ears were ringing, I lost my balance,” Sanchez said. “Everything happened within seconds.”

Marco is an inmate at the Graves County jail. He was working a work-release program at the factory when the walls caved in on them.

“When it happened, and I came back, there was no one around me. I was trapped in the rubble,” he said.

With a broken leg and cracked ribs himself, and running on adrenaline, Sanchez dug his way out.

“I was sitting on top of the building thinking, ‘what do I do?’ I was by myself. No one was around. It was dark. No responses. No people were around,” he said.

In that moment, Sanchez still wasn’t sure he was alive.

“I thought maybe I had died and I was working my way up to heaven,” Sanchez said.

Then realizing he was indeed alive, Sanchez started looking for survivors.

“There was a girl there trapped and she was crying, ‘help me, I’m trapped.’ She didn’t know I was there. Every decision i made at that moment, I don’t have experience on rescuing or anything. I just used common sense,” he said.

In a now-viral Facebook post that has reached thousands of comments and shares, the Graves County sheriff calls Sanchez a hero saying he undoubtedly saved lives that night, honoring him with a plaque.

“I honor that. I accept that as being a hero because, yes, I saved lives, and that is what being a hero does,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez has been overwhelmed by the comments. He’s gotten to read them and says they have inspired him to believe in himself.

He will be released from jail Tuesday after serving a year for stealing a phone. He was offered shock probation, and could be out of jail now, but he wanted to finish his sentence and debt to society.

“I thought because of what I did that lead me to incarceration, it was something that I did and I deserve to do the time.”

Sanchez is from Arizona. He says he left his family 15 years ago, and hasn’t seen them since. By the post going viral, his sister saw it, and was able to reconnect. They had a reunion via Zoom Thursday.

Sanchez says he wants to stay in Mayfield and help with the rebuilding when he is released, and the sheriff’s office has helped him set up temporary housing. They are looking for anyone with an inexpensive car for sale, saying he will need reliable transportation to sustain a job.

You can contact the Graves County Sheriff’s Office at (270) 247-4501, between 8:00AM - 4:30PM.

Monetary donations can be sent to Mayfield-Graves County Tornado Relief Fund PO Box 9 Fancy Farm, Ky 42039. Be sure to note that donation is intended to assist Mr. Marco Sanchez. Donations can also be dropped off at the Independence Bank at 100 East College Street Mayfield, Ky, or the Graves County Sheriff’s Office at 1102 Paris Road Suite 6.

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