Blake Keith Huff and Benjamin M. Hawkins

Blake Keith Huff and Benjamin M. Hawkins
The aftermath of a Feb. 22, 2017, fire that gutted the home of a woman in Kalkaska, Mich. Carnegie heroes Blake Keith Huff and Benjamin M. Hawkins entered the burning home and crawled to the woman, dragging her from the burning house, but she succumbed to her injuries later. Photo courtesy of Michael Jenkinson/Elite Investigation Group.
Blake Keith Huff and Benjamin M. Hawkins
Benjamin M. Hawkins

Blake Keith Huff and Benjamin M. Hawkins rescued Mary Jo Tester from burning, Kalkaska, Michigan, February 22, 2017.

Tester, 50, a paraplegic, was in her home’s living room when fire broke out and began to spread in that room. Tester called for help. Huff, 23, police sergeant, and Hawkins, 35, deputy sheriff, both of Kalkaska, responded to the home after learning of the fire.

Seeing flames through the living room window and black smoke issuing from the eaves, Huff and Hawkins entered the home. Huff crawled on his belly about 15 feet across the living room toward Tester, who was on the floor with flames nearby. Along the way he moved a recliner, which was on fire, from his path. Hawkins crawled inside behind Huff.

Reaching Tester on the far side of the room amid nearby flames, Huff grasped Tester by the ankles and crawled backward, dragging her. Hawkins grasped Huff’s pant leg and pulled and guided Huff, Tester in tow, to the door. Huff and Hawkins lifted Tester and carried her from the home.

Tester, who suffered smoke inhalation and severe burns, died five days later. Huff and Hawkins were each treated at a hospital for smoke inhalation. They recovered.


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