Pendleton Hero Honored

Thanks to a controversial remark by a current Presidential candidate, the definition of “hero” is in the national news. Who are they? What do they look like? What makes them a hero? There’s no definite answer to any of these questions – but there’s also no question that we know a hero when we see one. Zachary Higgins, of Upper Tract, West Virginia, in Pendleton County, is a hero.

Several West Virginia government officials were on hand at a ceremony last week to honor this special young 13 year old, who is challenged by Down’s Syndrome . Dr. Rahul Gupta, Commissioner for the Public Health, Vicki Hildreth, EMS Coordinator for Children, and Kenneth Tyree, West Virginia State Fire Marshall, gathered at the Upper Tract Fire Department Building to praise Zachary and present him with commendations and awards.

Fire chief Mike Alt related the story of March 29th of this year, where Zachary’s awareness and quick thinking saved his father’s life.

“At about 2:30 in the morning, we got an alert for a structural fire in a camper trailer, close to a residence, fully involved. Upon arrival, the individual, Zachary Higgins along with his father, George Frankowski, George at that time was trying to help extinguish the fire with a garden hose. However, after getting the fire out, we learned some of the details, that George and his son were both sleeping in this camper. Luckily, Zachary was either able to hear the smoke detector ringing, or smelled the smoke, recognized that there was an emergency, wakened his father up, basically, and got his father oriented enough to say, “hey, we need to get out of here.” And they both were able to escape between minutes of the structure being fully involved.”

Fire Marshall Tyree.

“I think it goes really without saying how great fun we all are to be here this day, to be able to recognize him as a hero, because he is, he’s my hero, and I know he’s his family’s hero, he’s this community’s hero, because he helped save a life.

“I’ve thought about it a number of times, what I might say- two things really came to my mind. One of those things comes from the New Testament, John, chapter 15:13, and it says “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friend.” And when I look, and have thought about the effort that Zachary made – there could have been all kinds of reactions, he could have been afraid, hit the door, got out, never made acknowledgement, so that was my first thought. And then secondly, obviously, what could have happened, the what-ifs, so how grateful I am, and how fortunate we all are that the what-ifs didn’t happen in this occasion.”

As an emotional family looked on, Zachary was presented with a certificate of recognition from the Department of Health and Human Services, a commendation and patch from the Fire Marshall’s office, a Junior Mountaineer medal from the Governor’s office, a certificate, patch and hat from the Upper Tract Fire Department, and likely most exciting to Zachary, he was promised a ride in a department fire truck.


Story By

Scott Smith

Scott Smith is the General Manager for Allegheny Mountain Radio and Station Coordinator and News Reporter for WVLS. Scott’s family has deep roots in Highland County. While he did not grow up here, he spent as much time as possible on the family farm, and eventually moved to Highland to continue the tradition, which he still pursues with his cousin. Unfortunately, farming doesn’t pay all the bills, so he has previously taken other jobs to support his farming hobby, including pressman/writer for The Recorder, and Ag Projects Coordinator for The Highland Center. He lives in Hightown with wife Michelle and son Ethan. In his spare time, he wishes he had more spare time, especially to ride his prized Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

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