Quick action saves lives

Duane Lovelady and Ralph Watkins were going about their day as usual on July 31 when something happened they will never forget.

Watkins, who, like Lovelady, lives off of South Shades Crest Road in Helena, said he was unloading his laundry when he heard an “awful explosion” and saw a “big old thing of black smoke behind the building.”

At that moment, the two men’s quick actions likely saved four occupants in an airplane that had crashed – almost literally – in their backyards.

After Watkins called 911 to alert authorities of the crash in the 4300 block of South Shades Crest Road, Lovelady sprinted to the mangled, burning wreckage sitting in a garden off the road.

“I saw them all hanging out of the airplane,” Lovelady told staff writer Molly Davidson as crews worked to investigate the wreck shortly after it happened. “It was burning, it blew up.”

Without hesitating, Lovelady immediately started pulling the four Tennessee residents from the burning wreckage to keep them safe until emergency responders arrived on the scene.

“I grabbed her under the arms, I was so scared because she was in so much pain,” Lovelady said of the young female victim he pulled from the wreckage.

“I can’t believe they were still conscious,” Lovelady told Davidson. “I can still see the looks on their faces, I will never forget that.”

We are sure the four victims in the plane crash – who survived the incident and were transported to the hospital for treatment – will also never forget Lovelady’s and Watkins’ selflessness and quick action. Their help was not lost on the police officers who were on the scene, either.

“We feel like they helped save the lives of the occupants,” Rollan said of the immediate action taken by Lovelady and Watkins.

Well done, gentlemen. Because of you, a tragic situation was made much better than it could have been.

The editorial is the opinion of the Shelby County Reporter editorial board.