ELYRIA, Ohio - Rita Campbell, the executive director of the Lorain County American Red Cross, explained exactly why a Heroes Recognition Event was necessary Thursday afternoon.
"We are here to celebrate life, not only for those who did heroic acts, but to those of the lives they affected. This is an incredible gift to the community," said Campbell.
Honoring several Lorain county residents for their acts of selflessness, Campbell presented each with a certificate of recognition.
Those honored Thursday were:
1.) James Torres, a senior nutrition driver for Neighborhood Alliance. Sensing something was awry after a knock at a client's door went unanswered during a meal delivery, "Jimmy" Torres took it upon himself to walk to other areas of the home. Hearing cries for help inside, the woman unable to get up from the floor, Torres quickly alerted Elyria firemen and police officers. He stayed with the elderly woman until she was transported to the hospital, her life saved.
Torres was recognized for his compassion. The Red Cross stated Torres' message for everyone was to "Look out for each other. It's a simple thing to do."
2.) Mitzi Baird and Savanna Bass
Mitzi Baird awakened at 5:00 a.m. by her husband Jack Baird's arm striking her. Attempting to wake him she found he was not breathing, unresponsive. Jack was experiencing an apparent heart attack on the morning of Halloween 2013. Mitzi performed CPR on Jack for 6 minutes while her daughter Savanna directed all 911 calls to their emergency situation.
Jack said he had to be resuscitated in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, his heart shocked back to life.
Jack Baird has since made a complete recovery. "It was unbelievable. It was like the perfect storm to have her there to do that for me. They put the paddles on me four different times. I was dead, clinically dead. They put the paddles on me 3 times at home and once in the ambulance, but they got me to the hospital," said Jack Baird.
How does one truly thank someone who has just saved their life?
"I'm very appreciative. It's the kind of thing you can't really measure because it's so final," added Baird. He is back to work now as an Elyria City Councilman.
3.) Adele and Eric Flynn
Penfield Township's Lloyd Gordon had been working on tractors most of his life without incident. But on August 4, 2013 Gordon slipped while working on a running tractor, accidently grabbing the gear shift lever and throttle. It rolled over him, crushing his jaw and his torso with its 1200 pound weight.
Gordon's niece Adele Flynn just happened to witness the accident from her home on the same farm. Rushing to his aid, she shut down the tractor but was unable to use her cell. She then called for her husband Eric for assistance.
Severely traumatized and in shock, Gordon was bleeding from his jaw, choking while on his back. Eric carefully rolled him over to clear his air passages, enabling him to breathe.
Gordon was soon life-flighted. EMS techinicians and doctors feared for worst considering the extent of the injuries. Amazingly Gordon was there Thursday in the audience for his quick-thinking niece and nephew when they received honors for his survival.
"The stuff that happened to me, I shouldn't be here right now, anyway. With their quick thinking, too, I shouldn't have left the scene alive. The firemen and the first responders are good friends of mine and they all told me the same thing, that they just figured when they put me on the helicopter that it was the end of that, that was going to be my last ride," said Gordon.
4.) Shane and Brittney Robinson
On September 2, 2013 Shane and Brittney Robinson were on their way home from Labor Day festivities in Huntington Township when they came upon what they thought was a bonfire in a field as they approached on Stewart Road in their car.
What they found instead was a car starting to burn following an accident just minutes before they arrived.
Brittney called 911 while Shane looked in the burning, smoking car. There were two unconscious occupants, one male, one fermale, inside near the burning dashboard. They were about the same age as the Robinsons.
Reacting quickly, Shane Robinson pulled both to safety from the mangled car, as Brittney ran to a nearby house to get a solid address for the 911 responders.
The car exploded into flames seconds later.
One occupant turned out be Jeff Burgos whose multiple injuries were so severe his aorta had been torn by crushed ribs. The other occupant was Alyssa Hovinentz, a former high school classmate of Shane Robinson. She also had severe injuries throughout her body. Both have recovered well, physically. They also attended this Red Cross event to honor two people who gave them a second chance at life.
Both Jeff and Alyssa do not remember the
accident, or any of the rescue. They both awoke in the hospital, with months of healing ahead. At least physically.
"It will be a while to recover mentally from this. We aren't there yet," said Alyssa Hovinentz. "Its amazing what they did. I mean, we're alive for a reason. We should have burned to death, honestly. We were supposed to. And even after getting saved we should have died because of our injuries. God gave us two chances. He gave us a second chance twice."
5.) Juan Torres, Jr.
Last fall Juan Torres was going about his business at the Ford Ohio Assembly Plant in Avon Lake when a fellow co-worker fell to the ground losing his breath.
Torres quickly performed CPR until Ford Plant emergency teams arrived with an AED. Torres' co-worker made a full recovery thanks to his ability to use his CPR training.
Red Cross officials said Juan Torres and the other's actions were exactly why this event necessitated the celebration of their mark on life in Lorain county.
"It is the unplanned, spontaneous acts where ordinary people, on an ordinary day, under ordinary circumstances suddenly become extraordinary heroes," stated Campbell.
The American Red Cross also invites you to their Red Tie Affair. The guest of honor, Carol Klimas, will be honored at the event. The event takes place Saturday, April 5 from 5-8 p.m. Tickets cost $100 and the event has limited seating. To purchase a ticket call Mary Fenwick at 440-324-2929 or email .