Hustonville girl honored for valor

October 29, 2004|EMILY BURTON

HUSTONVILLE - A bashful hero credited with saving three neighbors' lives was honored Thursday by her peers and local firefighters, just before lunch and recess.

Hustonville fourth-grader Katie West was up past her bedtime on the August night she spotted her neighbor's house on fire and called 911. Her neighbor and his two children were asleep when West's mother broke into the flaming house and helped them to safety.

For her quick actions, Katie received a medal and a plaque of gratitude from the fire department during the surprise ceremony Thursday. Moreland firefighters came to the school to teach each class about fire safety, but during the visit to Katie's class, she was honored with a round of applause.

If Katie hadn't seen the first sparks outside her window, firefighters would have arrived to find three bodies, said Moreland Assistant Fire Chief Todd Boyd.


"They were asleep. They would have slept right through it," Boyd said.

Boyd and firefighting veteran Gene Crowe were the first on the scene that night at what both men called one of the hottest fires they had ever fought.

"The house was fully engulfed when we got there, nothing but a big ball of fire, the whole house," said Crowe. "As soon as we got there and unrolled the hose, the truck beside the house exploded. It was probably one of the hottest fires I've ever been in in a long time... She's a sharp kid, a sharp kid."

She noticed a light on her ceiling

Katie described the night in simple detail. She helped her mom fold clothes when she couldn't sleep for some reason, and then in bed she noticed a light on her ceiling.

"I saw a pink light through my blinds, so I thought it was just a regular light, so I looked out my window and saw the house was on fire," Katie said.

A little after midnight, Katie dashed from the bedroom, her mom, Penny Worthington, said.

"She was grabbing the phone and calling 911, and I didn't know what was going on. She had to hang up on them to tell me what she was doing," Worthington said. "She says, 'there's kids over there, and their house is on fire.'"

Worthington broke a window to get through the back door and help the family outside.

"Of course, I was proud," said Katie's father, Marty Worthington. "I'm glad everything worked out for the best."

Katie said her neighbors now call her an angel, and took her to Goody's clothing store on a shopping spree in gratitude of her heroics.

She is rightly called a hero, Penny Worthington said. "She's always been our little hero anyway."

Katie wasn't so sure about that. It took a thoughtful scrunch of the nose before she agreed. "I guess so."

"Yeah, we all call her one," said Boyd.

As for her plaque, "I think I'm going to hang in on my wall and take a picture of it," Katie said.

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