V. Thomas Hayes, Sr.

Sixty-six-year-old retired mechanic V. Thomas Hayes, Sr., of Barnhart, Mo., was the first to enter a Byrnes Mill, Mo., home that collapsed after a Sept. 9, 2018, explosion in its basement level. Evelyn B.K. Ingoldsby, 56, and her husband were in the family room of the one-story house when the explosion occurred, trapping them in the debris. Shirtless, Hayes dug through debris at the front of the house and found a small opening to enter the home. From there, he advanced to Ingoldsby, who did not want to leave her husband. Holding to her clothing, Hayes pulled Ingoldsby toward the front of the house, where they became stuck in knee-deep rubble as fire spread through the house’s main level. Hayes’ son-in-law, who had also responded, freed Hayes and rescue personnel aided Ingoldsby to safety shortly before flames engulfed the entire house igniting ammunition that was stored throughout the home. Ingoldsby’s husband did not survive. Ingoldsby was not burned, but she was treated for minor injuries sustained in the home’s collapse. Hayes injured his left shoulder and had cuts to his legs.

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