Terry Self, an
off-duty firefighter, with twenty years service, overcame
unthinkable physical and mental obstacles to lead in the
rescue of two young boys from atop a 120' electrical
transmission tower. The fearlessness of this hero and the
complex human drama of this event captivated many across our
nation due to live television network coverage.
drama began after 4 PM on February 11. A 10 Year-old autistic
boy with a fixation for heights had climbed a 12 story
high-powered tower. His 17 year-old brother with a pronounced
fear of heights followed in a rescue attempt.
home on a day off, viewed a news bulletin on the incident and
responded immediately to the scene. He volunteered to be the
lead climber with Technical Rescue Team co-member Jeff
Mitchell to follow.
circuit to the tower was closed and its 230,000 volts of
electricity were diverted. The power company advised there was
strong possibility spontaneous static discharge with a minimum
of 20,000 volts still remained in the lines.
dangerous situation was intensified by fading sunlight and
falling temperatures, along with television helicopters
hovering nearby and spectators gathering below.
Mitchell were taken to the 60' level by an aerial ladder. The
arduous free-climb then began. Self assumed the lead and
reached the boys 15 minutes later.
Terry Self (left) with Technical
Rescue Team co-member Jeff Mitchell
used his skills as a firefighter, paramedic and, most
importantly, as a parent to assure the boys they were safe and
to prepare them for the descent.
Once back on
the ground, everyone celebrated the relief from danger and the
joy of success. The event seemed to last a second--and a
lifetime. It will endure forever in the minds of so many.
Winner: Terry Self
Terry Self shown here receiving the 1997 FFOTY Award along
with a check for $1,000.00 from United Fire.