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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Fax: 540-483-8013

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Local heroes honored for selfless acts
Trooper, firefighter and passersby took the time to help others
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Courtesy Photo: Andrew Hairston (son), Charles Hairston (father), Senior Trooper Todd Haynes and Travis Johnson were honored as heroes by the American Red Cross for their actions during a car crash in Rocky Mount in July 2012.

Friday, March 29, 2013

By K.A. WAGONER - Staff Writer

"Divine intervention" is what a state police trooper calls his timing in response to a car crash on South Main Street in Rocky Mount last July.

After leaving the courthouse on July 7, 2012, Senior Trooper Todd Haynes noticed his radar gun was pointed downward and stopped to adjust it, he said.

"When I started back down South Main, I saw the bottom of a car as it flipped over an embankment at Old Furnace Road," Haynes said.

After flipping several times, the car landed upside down in a culvert filled with about 2 feet of water, Haynes said. The driver's head was under water and he heard a baby crying in the back seat.

Moments later, three men "appeared" and helped Haynes lift the car out of the water.

"They (the men) appeared out of nowhere," Haynes said. "We tried to flip the car back over, but it was blocked by a concrete barrier."

So Haynes and the three men, motorists who were driving by, held the car up on its side until EMS crews removed the baby from the car and the fire department extricated the driver, who was stuck after having been partially ejected from the vehicle.

Haynes and those three men -- Charles Hairston, Andrew Hairston and Travis Johnson -- were recognized last week at the annual Celebration of Heroes in Roanoke.

The men were named "Good Samaritan Heroes," while Haynes was named "Law Enforcement Hero" at the event, sponsored by the American Red Cross Roanoke Valley Chapter.

"There was definitely something divine in the timing of events that day," Haynes said. "If my radar had not needed adjusting, I would not have been in the right place at the right time."

"I was just doing my job," he added. "Those men are the real heroes. It's an honor for me to work in an area where I can be in the company of such men as these three gentlemen. They stopped when they didn't have to, they helped without being asked...because they wanted to...because it was the right thing to do."

Also honored as a "Good Samaritan Hero" was the late Dr. John Echternach, who died from injuries he sustained helping motorists on U.S. 220 in Boones Mill during a windstorm last June.

Echternach, a volunteer with the Boones Mill Fire Department, was critically injured when a tree fell on him while he was trying to move another tree that was blocking U.S. 220 on June 29, 2012.

At last week's event, Echternach's wife, Debbi, accepted the posthumous award, along with his son, Jeff, who is also a member of the Boones Mill Volunteer Fire Department.

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