Ovation: Charlotte Heffelmire’s Citizen Lifesaving Award.
For many college students living on campus and away from home “fall break” is often the first opportunity of the school year to travel to see family and friends. Going home for the holidays can become the “light at the end of the tunnel” that students need to keep them focused on their school work. After what I remember as being a difficult week (or two) of final semester exams, it was always nice to have time at home to relax before heading back to start new chapters, electives, etc. with a fresh attitude and having had plenty of rest.
While visiting her family at home in Vienna, Virginia, Charlotte Heffelmire didn’t get as much rest over the holidays as she might have liked.
Her father, Eric, had been under the family’s truck working on its brake lines when the vehicle slipped off a jack and pinned him beneath the front end. Sparks began shoot, igniting leaking gasoline into flames. Eric struggled for ten minutes but couldn’t free himself until Charlotte happened to walk into the garage. She immediately ran to the front of the burning GMC utility pickup truck and, barefoot, tried lifting it off her father. It didn’t budge. She tried again and was, surprisingly, able to lift it high enough to free him and drag him away from the flames.
“She’s a pretty amazing kid. But, you know, it must’ve just been adrenaline and not wanting to see me burn to death that night.” – Eric Heffelmire
Realizing the burning truck was still a threat to the house and the rest of her family inside, she climbed behind the wheel, floored the gas pedal and steered into the yard on just three wheels. Charlotte then went inside to get her family and proceeded to calmly call 911 to assist the local fire department in saving their home.
The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department has awarded her a Citizen Lifesaving Award for her heroic actions.
The Heffelmire family must be very proud of Charlotte. I think the most heroic thing I ever did on a fall break was make my bed or, maybe, take out the garbage.
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