When a car plunged into The Pigeon River in Canton last Wednesday afternoon, it took a team effort to save the life of the man inside.
While first responders arrived and jumped into the water to save the man trapped inside, perhaps the greatest level of heroism was shown by two average citizens, who decided in the moment to do what they could to save a life.
David Chambers, an Army veteran, was the first one in the water. While we must never forget the sacrifices shown by first responders, it’s also worth noting that they are trained to respond to these incidents as they did. Chambers was told by a 911 operator that he shouldn’t even get in the water, but when a life was on the line, he felt he only had one choice.
“I didn’t want to see anybody drown,” he told The Mountaineer.
Likewise, Hayden Stockton and Zach Burch, just high schoolers, heard the crash happen and rushed to the scene. Without a second thought, Stockton joined Chambers in the river, where he said he spent upward of 45 minutes while Burch positioned himself to direct the first responders to the scene.
After being in critical condition for nearly six days, the Flat Rock resident passed away. However, that doesn’t diminish the efforts of Chambers and Stockton, who put themselves in danger without a second thought.
Their act of selfless heroism makes us think back to Riley Howell, who not long ago sacrificed his own life to save countless others when he knocked a gunman off his feet. After Howell hit the gunman, no one else was shot.
It is these acts of heroism, which in some senses mirror each other, that embody the common local term “mountain values.”
Mountain values can be seen as a certain kind of grit, the grit that compels people to put themselves through hardship simply to help their neighbor. As Howell embodied mountain values to the fullest extent through his sacrifice, so too did Chambers and Stockton.
While we would never expect anyone to risk their own life to save another, as those men did, we should take their example and apply it where we can, if even on a far smaller level.
Mountain values should compel us to take that extra step to help our neighbor. Even though an act may seem smaller than jumping into a river to pull a man from his submerged vehicle, you never know; you might just save a life.