Bluefield Employee Awarded Chairman’s Life Saving Award
|Bob Powers (left) presented Bluefield IT Telecom employee Bernie Maynard with the AEP Chairman’s Life Saving Award in December.|
(Story by Teresa Hall)
BLUEFIELD, W.Va. — Bernie Maynard said he only did what he hoped anyone would do if one of his family members were in a similar situation. After witnessing a car crash, the Bluefield IT Telecom employee put everything aside to help the victims and for his selfless actions recently received AEP’s most prestigious life saving award.
Maynard is still humble when he recounts the events that unfolded in December 2015. Maynard was on his way to a job site when in his rearview mirror he spotted a car careening into the median and flipping on its top.
Maynard didn’t know it at the time, but one of the victims was the young grandson of fellow Appalachian Power employee Dave Andrews. While Maynard has continued to downplay his role that day, Andrews and Maynard’s IT Telecom co-workers refer to Maynard as a hero.
Last month, AEP Vice Chairman Bob Powers traveled to Bluefield to present Maynard with the AEP Chairman’s Life Saving Award. Giving out the Chairman’s awards “is absolutely the funnest thing and proudest thing I get to do as an AEP executive,” Powers said as he praised Maynard’s actions before a group of co-workers, family and friends who had secretly gathered at the Bluefield Service Center to surprise Maynard.
“We’re a remarkable group of people at AEP, and there are some remarkable stories out there, and Bernie’s story is one of those,” Powers said.
After witnessing the crash, Maynard called 911 and turned back to the crash site. When he parked, Maynard saw that other Good Samaritans had stopped to assist. The driver had climbed out of the car, but her three-year-old grandson, Wyatt, was in the back still strapped in his car seat. When the car flipped, the impact jammed the car’s rear doors.
After several unsuccessful attempts to get the rear doors open, Maynard ran back to his company truck to grab a hammer to break the window. As he hammered away at the window, the others who’d gathered were continuing to try to pry the door open on the other side and finally got it open enough to pull the little boy to safety.
Less than 30 seconds later, Maynard said the car burst into flames. “You could see that smoke was starting to roll out and people were yelling to get away,” Maynard said. “As soon as we got away, there were 10-foot flames coming out from the front of the vehicle.”
|Just seconds after Bernie Maynard and several others pulled a 3-year-old from the wreck, the car burst into flames. Photo courtesy of the Bluefield Daily Telegraph.|
Maynard’s wife, Sarah, and young daughter, Paisley, were among those who surprised Maynard by showing up to see him receive the company’s highest safety honor. His colleagues, including Maynard’s boss, Bluefield IT Telecom Manager Gene Davis, who submitted Maynard for the Others’ Keeper Award, were also in the room.
But it was little Wyatt’s presence, along with his grandfather, Dave Andrews, that brought tears to the eyes of many in the room when Andrews spoke.
“Bernie’s a hero to me,” Andrews said. “I can’t thank him enough for what he did. You cared enough to stop to help and for that my family and I will always be grateful.”