Missouri postal worker recognized for rescue of motorist and child

A Missouri postal worker will be honored Monday for his role in rescuing a motorist and child from a burning vehicle.

From the Missouri Highway Patrol:

Captain Jeffrey N. Vitale, commanding officer of Troop E, Poplar Bluff, announces two men will receive the Patrol’s Honorary Trooper Certificate. The Honorary Trooper Certificate is presented to a non-employee who performs in an exemplary manner and under dangerous conditions to aid another. The men were nominated due to their actions at the scene of a motor vehicle crash near Naylor, Missouri. The presentation will be held at 9 a.m. on Monday, November 28, 2016, at Troop E Headquarters, in Poplar Bluff.

On October 7, 2016, troopers were dispatched to a vehicle crash and fire with occupants trapped inside. The investigation determined two bystanders, Heath A. Moon and Jeffrey D. Thomas, risked their personal safety and well-being by extricating the injured driver and a toddler from inside the burning vehicle.

On October 7, 2016, troopers were notified by Troop E communications personnel of a single vehicle crash, with people trapped inside the burning vehicle, on Missouri Highway 142 near Naylor, Missouri. Upon arrival, troopers observed a fully involved vehicle fire. The driver, Daniel Scott Mitchell, of Naylor, Missouri, was lying on the north side of the highway, approximately 100 feet from the burning vehicle. Mr. Mitchell had sustained two broken legs and a serious head laceration. A three-year-old toddler, Decklan J. Mitchell, was also an injured occupant in the vehicle and had been secured in a child safety restraint seat.

During the course of the investigation, troopers determined Heath A. Moon had driven up on the scene of the crash. Mr. Moon, a United States Postal Service employee, was operating his delivery truck at the time. Mr. Moon said the crashed vehicle had begun to burn. Mr. Moon’s attempts to extinguish the fire with a water bottle were unsuccessful. Mr. Moon removed the child safety seat, containing the toddler, and placed the child seat and child inside another bystander’s vehicle. Mr. Moon returned to the burning vehicle and made two failed attempts to pull the driver from inside the burning vehicle. Mr. Moon made a third attempt to pull the driver from the burning vehicle, this time with the assistance of another bystander, who was identified as Jeffrey D. Thomas. Mr. Thomas lives nearby and came to the scene of the crash. Mr. Thomas pulled on Mr. Moon, as Mr. Moon pulled the driver from inside the burning vehicle. Mr. Moon and Mr. Thomas relocated the injured driver to a safe distance away from the burning vehicle. Both injured occupants were transported to the Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center by the Ripley County Ambulance Service.

Mr. Heath A. Moon and Mr. Jeffrey D. Thomas, without regard for their own safety, entered a burning vehicle to save two individuals they did not know. The vehicle was a total loss and if these men had not acted the way they did and as a quickly as they did, this crash could have had a very different ending.

“The actions of Mr. Moon and Mr. Thomas were exemplary,” said Captain Vitale. “They both uphold the motto of the Missouri State Highway Patrol of service and protection. I am certain the injured occupants would have not been able to exit the burning vehicle on their own and without the assistance of Mr. Moon and Mr. Thomas. Their quick response and unselfish disregard for their own personal safety prevented two certain deaths from occurring.”