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Canton’s Andre Hooks Wins Chairman’s Life Saving Award

by on January 8, 2018
Andre Hooks helped rescue a man from a burning vehicle.

(Scott Fuller)

It was supposed to be a relaxing morning fishing for AEP Ohio line mechanic Andre Hooks. Instead, he starred in a harrowing scene that would earn him the Chairman’s Life Saving Award.

When Hooks left his house the morning of Sunday, October 8, a fast-moving tan-colored Hummer sped by him on the road. The vehicle was driving erratically and appeared to be tailgating another car ahead of it. The Hummer swerved repeatedly into oncoming traffic – “he may be drunk or on something,” Hooks guessed – and the dangerous driving continued one too many times. The driver swerved again, this time colliding headfirst into a car driving the opposite way.

Hooks hopped out and rushed to the scene of accident. Peering inside the car that had been struck, all he could see were deployed airbags. So he banged on the window to get the driver’s attention. At that point Hooks noticed that the engine was on fire … and the flames were getting bigger.

Moving quickly and with the help of a nearby Good Samaritan, Hooks took off the man’s seat belt and removed him from the car. The injured man had a broken leg and his ankle was gushing blood, but they carried him to safety. “His screaming from the pain as we carried him away is something I never want to hear again,” Hooks said.

Right about the time when Hooks should have been casting his first fishing line into the water, he found himself driving to the police station to fill out an incident report.

At Hooks’ Canton Northeast garage, employees rotate the responsibility of leading the safety huddle every Monday. Monday, October 9, was Hooks’ scheduled day; he interrupted a video on distracted driving and cell phone use halfway through to share with his co-workers what had happened the day before. They listened intently to his riveting story. It was a story that would be shared many times more, earning him the Chairman’s Life Saving Award and a handshake from AEP Utilities Executive Vice President Paul Chodak, congratulating him on his bravery and a job well done.

“Andre is a very humble person. I think his humility makes this heroic effort and the award even more rewarding,” said Rob Cregge, manager – Distribution System for Canton. “I’m truly proud to be part of Andre’s team.”

During the critical minutes of the accident, Hooks thought about his daughters. He thought about their friends. And, most importantly, he also remembered his training.

“Looking back, I believe my training from AEP through Safe Drivers Academy caused me to slow down, recognize the hazards and pull off the roadway to avoid any more danger,” Hooks said. “It has become instinct to follow safe driving standards, even on personal time.

“I believe I did what anyone in my position would have done – help in any way possible.”

 

 

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