Junction teen honored for fire rescue

December 19, 2004|BOBBIE CURD

JUNCTION CITY - Richard Greer Jr. still recalls that May night like it was yesterday.

"I couldn't even see her. I saw two little feet, and I just grabbed them," Richard, 14, said Friday, recalling how he rescued his 3-year-old niece from their burning Junction City house. "It was all fire and smoke. We couldn't get through."

Richard and his niece did eventually escape the fire after he smashed out a window. That was after he had already led his two younger nephews to safety and returned to the burning house when he noticed the girl hadn't made it outside.

Richard, a student at Boyle Middle School, was to be honored with life-saving award Saturday night at Junction City's annual Christmas dinner.


"It happened back in May, and I know it's been a while, but we have to recognize such a brave young man," Junction Fire Chief Jimmy Gibson said.

Mayor G.G. Harmon agreed.

"I was a firefighter for 25 years and I can say that I'm very proud of him," Harmon said. "It was heroic, and a rare thing for a young person to do."

Richard said he didn't have to think much that night seven months ago, he just acted on instinct.

Richard and his parents, Martha and Richard Greer Sr., were asleep in their house on South Lucas Street. Three grandchildren, ages 3, 5 and 6, were in another room, where a fire was accidentally sparked.

"Well, they came into my room and told me what was going on because they was scared," the teen said, referring to the two small boys, ages 5 and 6.

Richard said he reacted immediately. He grabbed both of the boys and carried them out of the house as quickly as he could.

"I brought them outside and then got to looking around and realized the littlest one, the 3-year-old, wasn't there," he said. "I ran back inside to get her."

Hallway filled with thick black smoke

The hallway was billowing with thick black smoke and Greer said it was getting hard to breath. He had to go back into the house and down the hallway on his hands and knees. After finding the child, Greer then pushed the little girl out the busted window and crawled out of it behind her, but he did not escape the flames entirely. He suffered third-degree burns on his back.

"My back is doing OK now, doesn't really hurt anymore," he said with a smile.

Martha Greer was caught underneath a part of the house as she attempted to escape and has had surgery to repair her damaged knee. She is still impressed by her son's actions.

"I still to this day can't believe he did it," she said, gazing at her son. "I really, really don't think I could've gone back into that house the way it looked."

His father is proud, too.

"I think he's one in a million for a kid, that's what I think," Richard Greer Sr. said.

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