Meadville Tribune

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June 17, 2014

Sekerski lauded by national, local reps for saving trucker's life

COCHRANTON — Firefighter Ryan Sekerski was honored as a hero Monday morning by national and local representatives as well as friends and family after rescuing truck driver Albert Prosser from a burning gasoline tanker two weeks ago.

A U.S. flag, flown in his honor over the nation’s capital, was presented to Sekerski by U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly after remarks from Sekerski and Kelly at Cochranton’s fire hall.

“Hopefully they talk about it for many years to come,” Kelly said of Sekerski’s family after presenting the flag. “In this case, he served as an incredible example, putting his own safety on the side to help someone in need.”

Sekerski wasn’t exactly sure what to expect when he showed up at the fire hall, but he was overwhelmed by the outpouring of gratitude from Kelly, as well as borough members and officials.

“I want to thank everybody for their support and kind words to me,” Sekerski said. “My family was proud, people from town, the mayor, police and fire chiefs; they’re all proud of what I accomplished.”

Sekerski previously told the Tribune he was on his way home from work in Titusville when he heard about a tanker truck that crashed on Route 27 near Diamond at approximately 4 p.m. on June 2.

Initially on scene to take pictures, he asked emergency responders whether the driver was still in the vehicle. After receiving conflicting reports, he took it upon himself to locate the driver, trapped in the cab, and worked to free him.

Other firefighters were busy attempting to control the fire, Sekerski said, but he wasn’t willing to wait.

After a few unsuccessful attempts to pry open the passenger side door, Sekerski said he acquired an electric saw and began cutting an escape route for Prosser, who said he couldn’t move one of his shoulders.

Sekerski covered Prosser with a spare fire coat as the interior of the cab started to burn.

With assistance from who he believed was Randolph Fire Chief Kevin Hill, Sekerski leaned in through the windshield and freed Prosser, who was pulled from the passenger side window and driven to Meadville Medical Center, where he was in stable condition later that night.

“I just did what my training allowed me to do and what, as a fireman, I’m supposed to do,” Sekerski said. “We’re trained for situations like this and we have to step up and go above and beyond so the outcome is good for everybody.”

Prosser was not a participant in Monday’s recognition ceremony.

Given the opportunity, Sekerski said he’d definitely take the risk again, provided his timing and placement was as lucky as it was on that day.

“Everybody (on scene) that day deserves praise for their actions,” he said, nonetheless grateful for the recognition. “It means a lot to a small-town person like me, so I appreciate everything.”

Kelly was also impressed by Sekerski’s willingness to jump right back into work, resuming his responsibilities almost immediately after the ceremony.

“That’s so typical of this area,” Kelly said. “This district holds really strong traditional American values.”

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