Teen wins award for rescuing father from fire

March 28, 1993|By Alisa Samuels | Alisa Samuels,Staff Writer GR PGOTO

A 16-year-old youth who pulled his paraplegic father from their burning home in Ellicott City received the first Central Maryland American Red Cross "Community Hero" award.

l The award was given to Russell Shaver Jr. last week for reacting quickly after a two-alarm fire ignited about 7:30 a.m. March 18 on the second-floor of his family's home in the 8400 block of Old Frederick Road, fire officials said.

One of Russell's nieces ran into his room and yelled, "Fire!," he recalled. He got out of bed and ran in the hallway, where he saw his mother trying to extinguish a fire on a bunk bed with a cup of water.

Frances Shaver, who was also calling 911, told her son to get his father from their bedroom. Russell Shaver Sr. has been paralyzed from the waist down since an automobile accident in Baltimore County last year, family members said.

Russell raced to help his father out of bed, crawled through thick smoke and dragged the older man to safety on the front porch, he said.

The 10th-grader at Mount Hebron High School told other occupants, four children and his 23-year-old sister, to get out of the house.

"It was just something I did," Russell said. "Any kid would've done it."

Fire investigators said children playing with a cigarette lighter ignited the fire, which caused about $125,000 in damage. No one was injured.

The family is staying at a hotel trying to find a house with a short-term lease until their home of 17 years can be repaired.

Russell received his award at the Howard County School of Technology on Route 108, where he attends welding classes. About 30 friends and relatives watched as he was given the hero award.

"Russell has certainly distinguished himself as a hero," said Bruce Rothschild, chairman of the board for the Central Maryland Chapter of the American Red Cross.

The Red Cross helps people after disasters, Mr. Rothschild said, but "we don't run into burning buildings to save people."

"It feels pretty good. It's cool," Russell said after getting the award. "I've never gotten something like this before. I've never been called a hero."

His mother said, "I just think it's marvelous. Of course, we're very proud of him."

After the fire, Russell said his father thanked him and hugged him. His father didn't attend the ceremony.

The community hero award was established recently to recognize individuals in Central Maryland who show leadership skills during disasters, Red Cross officials said. The organization plans to continue presenting the award annually in March -- American Red Cross Month.

"It's the very first award and we're hoping it will not be the last," said Leni Uddyback, a Red Cross spokeswoman.

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