Four honored for quick action in fire rescue

Immediate response helped MSU Texas students escape danger

Four honored for quick action in fire rescue

Walynn Williams and his friends weren’t thinking about being heroes when they helped others reach safety from a fire early on Aug. 13 at the Mustang Village Apartments.

There was a knock at the door where Williams, his roommates, and a friend were hanging out. The ladies banging on the door wanted to use a mattress for escape. Instinct and adrenaline took over for Williams, Naton “Bam” Edwards, Darek Simmons, and Preston Vaden were on to the rescue.

“Without hesitation, we grabbed our mattress and ran outside,” Williams said. “When we made it outside, a guy was hanging by his hands from the third story window, and the entire left side stairwell was in flames. We put the mattresses directly under the guy and prepared to catch him. Eventually, he dropped and landed on the mattresses. Immediately after that, another student was trying to jump from the third-story window to the right. So I picked up my mattress, while others here helping the other student and put it under his window as well.”

The four young men were honored Friday at the 2021 MSU Texas student convocation.

“To be honest, I was running off of instinct, and I just felt the need to help,” Simmons said. “I yelled for people to grab mattresses to hopefully cushion the fall for the people in the third-story window. We lined them up below and a bit away from where they were in case they rolled or would land awkwardly. To sum it up, I just went on my instinct, and I just wanted to make sure everyone was safe.”

They also shared a case of water with whoever needed it, and soon the fire department had taken over.
Edwards said he’d always wondered if he’d be ready for a situation or if he’d be too stunned with fear. But his Eagle Scout training paid off for the exercise physiology major.

“Without even thinking, my body just went in without a second thought,” Edwards said. “I remembered a lot of my training in these situations from being an Eagle Scout. It wasn’t hard to get the mattresses in the right spot since so much adrenaline was rushing through my body, the mattresses felt as light as can be. I’ve trained in first aid and fire safety as well. It was truly ingrained into my brain that everything felt like it came naturally to me. I’m very grateful for my past experiences and the gentleman that helped me.”

Williams, a biology major, was thankful that the dramatic night had a safe ending.

“I would like to say that I believe the prayers to God in the moment had a huge impact on the overall outcome of the situation,” Williams said. “From what I’ve heard, there were no severe injuries and that everyone made it out okay, and I’m beyond thankful for that.”

Vaden is a student at Vernon College.

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