- Associated Press - Sunday, December 4, 2016

NAYLOR, Mo. (AP) - Two southeast Missouri men have been honored as heroes for saving a man and his toddler son from a burning minivan.

The Poplar Bluff Daily American Republic (https://bit.ly/1COCxBR ) reports that Heath Moon of Poplar Bluff and Jeffrey Thomas of Naylor were recently honored by the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Both received a plaque, a pin and a certificate naming them honorary troopers.

The crash happened Oct. 7 when a Dodge Caravan driven by Daniel Mitchell, 41, of Naylor, left Highway 142, struck a tree and caught fire. Mitchell and his 3-year-old son, Decklan, were trapped inside.

The patrol says Moon, a UPS driver, stopped to help. Thomas, who lives near the crash scene, left his home to offer assistance. They worked together to get the father and son free.

By the time troopers arrived, father and son had both been removed. Mitchell had two broken legs and a head laceration. His son was also injured. Both were treated at a hospital.

“If these men had not acted the way they did, and as quickly as they did, this crash could have had a very different ending,” patrol Capt. Jeff Vitale said.

Moon said he instinctively stopped to help.

“I just jumped out of the truck and jumped into action,” Moon said. “I think anybody else would have done the same thing.”

Thomas heard the crash and thought someone struck a deer. He went to the road and saw smoke.

Moon said he first removed the child and his car seat, handing both to Thomas, who made sure the child was safely away from the burning vehicle.

Moon tried to put out the fire while Thomas sought to pull Mitchell from the minivan, but was unsuccessful. Eventually the two men were able to work together to pull him out.

Thomas said that if not for a vacation day, he wouldn’t have been home.

“The good Lord put me in the place to help a family in need,” he said.

___

Information from: Daily American Republic, https://www.darnews.com


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