Editor’s Note: This is the last in a series of stories about the men and women selected as this year’s Heroes of the Heartland for the Southern Prairie chapter of the American Red Cross. An awards breakfast and program will be held Friday at the Bridge View Center in Ottumwa.
OTTUMWA — It was in the early evening hours of June 30, 2011, and Myles Sauer and Becky Smith were on a break outside their work.
That’s when they noticed a single engine aircraft crash onto the Ottumwa Regional Airport’s main runway. Without hesitation, Sauer and Smith climbed a fence and ran onto the runway.
Immediately, Sauer and employees from Al-jon went to the plane and attempted to remove the pilot from the aircraft. The plane was burning, and the men had to cut the pilot out of his seat belt to extract him from the plane. Sauer said the heat from the burning plane was intense.
Once the pilot was out of the plane, Smith began to administer CPR to the pilot and continued to do so until emergency personnel arrived on the scene.
When a group of men from Al-jon received the Red Cross “Heroes of the Heartland” award in 2012 for their efforts that day at the airport, it was noted they were not alone. Indeed, many others were there to see if they could help.
That, of course, included Sauer and Smith, who remain humble about the experience.
And although the pilot subsequently died from his injuries sustained in the crash, it’s clear that Sauer and Smith worked diligently and without fear for their own safety to help someone they did not know.
And without hesitation, friends and family say, they would do it again.