Teen becomes hero after disaster

Published 7:16 am Monday, April 18, 2005

By by Lee Weyhrich
A local 16-year-old became a hero after lifting a nearly two-ton vehicle off of his cousin.
Escambia High School students Kevin Emmons, 19, and his cousin Blake Cunningham, 16, were driving from a fishing trip around 2 p.m. on March 26 when Emmons lost control of his GMC Jimmy rolling it five times.
"We went to the creek and we went fishing," Cunningham said. "On the way back we were going around the curve at Cow Pen Creek Rd. behind the Academy. We came around a sharp curve and he was going kind of fast. He went off the road a little and when he snatched it (to compensate) we turned sideways and flipped. They (people at the scene) say it flipped five times."
Cunningham, the son of Debrah Smith and the late Wayne Smith, looked to the driver side of the vehicle and didn't see his cousin in the driver seat.
"I looked under the vehicle and he wasn't moving," Cunningham said. "I climbed out and I thought he was dead, and he started crying and said 'help me' and that's when I picked up the vehicle and pulled him out."
Cunningham didn't even think about the weight of the vehicle, just that he needed to save his cousin.
"All I could think about is getting him out from under it, I couldn't tell (if it was heavy)," Cunningham said. "When I climbed out I went around there and just thought about having to get him out from under it."
As blood dripped from his own wounds, Cunningham lifted the battered vehicle and dragged Emmons away from the truck.
"My face was all cut up and my shoulder was hurt real badly," Cunningham said. "It wasn't broke or nothing it was just bruised up. My leg hit something hard and it was bruised up, but nothing was broke."
Emmons and Cunningham were rushed to Atmore Community Hospital and with everyone fearing the worst Life-Flight was called in on standby.
"The first thing I remember was waking up in the hospital," Emmons said. "I knew I had wrecked, but I didn't remember anything about the wreck. I just worried about Blake. They told me I asked about him about every five seconds and they told me he pulled the truck off me."
Emmons has no recollection of the wreck or any of the events immediately before or after.
"I don't really remember anything about it, just what people have told me," he said.
Emmons spent just one night in the hospital, a miracle considering what witnesses said about the wreck and what investigators said about the chances of surviving a vehicle ejection.
"They kept my son overnight and he got stitches and did receive a concussion," mother Glenda Emmons said. "They (the investigator) said the odds of getting ejected are like winning the lottery. The doctors said that most people, when they get ejected don't live to tell about it."
As far as anyone can tell Kevin was thrown backwards and through the rear side window.
"Luckily they're both okay and everything worked out except for his (Kevin's) memory of the event," Mrs. Emmons said.
Glenda said she had a premonition that something would happen to her son before graduation.
"That happened during spring break and summer coming up," Glenda said. "I just had this strange feeling that something would happen to Kevin before graduating."
Cunningham never had any idea what he was capable of before this event.
"A hero?" Cunningham said. "I don't know. I never figured that would be me."
A hero is exactly what Cunningham is. Last Wednesday night he was given a plaque by the Emmons family in appreciation of his act of bravery.
"We just honored his cousin Blake with a plaque yesterday in recognition of his heroic action," Glenda said.
As for Emmons, he has been feeling a little apprehension about driving since the accident.
"I've been driving a little bit waiting for a different vehicle," Emmons said. "It just took me a while before I'd even get behind a wheel of anything. I've drove maybe three or four times since it happened."

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