Heroes Ball personal to these families

Published 10:32 am Thursday, October 13, 2016

By Ron Semple

Special to the Enterprise

Kevin Lee looked straight at the video camera and said “Thank you.”

The 28 year old’s voice was soft, the words indistinct, but the message was clear. He was grateful to the County Line Fire Department and other first responders for saving his life.

That he could talk at all, as his mother Eileen Pierce said, was “miraculous.” He suffered a traumatic brain injury from which he still hasn’t completely recovered

Lee’s story along with that of a 60-year-old banker who “died” five times before he was stabilized will be featured at the First Annual Heroes Ball Nov. 11 at WinMock Barn  off US 158 in the Kinderton section of Bermuda Run.

That gala event will honor Davie County’s firefighters, EMTs, rescue teams, 911 dispatchers and other first responders who stand ready 24 hours a day to help their neighbors when they need it most.

Pierce told her son’s story on camera. She was woken up at 2 o’clock on a summer morning in 2014 by that phone call that parents dread the most. It was the North Carolina Highway Patrol telling her that her son had been seriously injured in a single-car crash.

A car of young people, out for a bit of fun, was traveling at about 70 mph when Lee lost control on a curve. The car careened off the road and hit a tree. One person was thrown from the car and two others were trapped in the wreckage. None were wearing seatbelts.

The County Line Fire Department rushed to the scene along with other first responders. Using flashlights and lights from their engine, firefighters and rescue technicians peeled back the roof of the wreck and carefully removed Lee and a passenger while EMTs worked to stabilize the person who was thrown from the car on impact.

Lee, who was choking on his own blood, and one other critically injured person were airlifted by helicopter to the hospital while an ambulance took a third to an emergency room.

Lee was in a coma and was in intensive care for 10 days. That was followed by eight weeks of skilled nursing care.  The doctors offered little hope for his recovery. But he started to respond on Halloween.

“The Lord was looking out for us,” said Mrs. Pierce. “Thanks to God and you, I still have my son and Chrissie has her father.”

Lee can walk, talk some, laugh, think clearly and shake your hand but a full recovery is still in the future. He is inspired by his daughter, Chrissie, to work hard at it. He intends to return to his studies at a community college some day.

As Kevin Lee told the camera, “I can do it. I can do it.”

Terry Lewis of Bermuda Run, an articulate executive with 41 years at BB&T, told this story.

He had just returned from a 38-mile hike on the Appalachian Trail on an April day in 2014 and had contentedly gone to bed. Hours later, sensing that something was wrong, his wife, Lesa, tried to wake him. She couldn’t.

Lesa called 911 and the dispatcher, Stephanie Speer, calmly told her how to perform CPR on her comatose husband. The Advance Fire Department was in their bedroom just minutes later. A quick assessment revealed ventricular fibrillation, a wildly beating heart rhythm that inevitably leads to death.

Just four minutes after the firefighters arrived, Lewis coded. They were able to use an automatic external defibrillator to bring him back and get him into the Davie County EMS ambulance.

He coded again on the way to Forsyth Medical Center but the paramedics again were able to shock his heart back into a non-lethal rhythm.

Lewis’ ordeal was not over. He “died” three more times at the hospital but the doctors and nurses were able to revive and stabilize him. Finally, after emergency cardiac catheterization, by-pass surgery re-routed blood around five clogged arteries and a pacemaker was implanted to insure a regular heartbeat.

“God woke my wife, “said Lewis who praised first responders. “There is not a day that goes by that I don’t look at my beautiful wife Lesa and know that I could have easily died if it was not for the extraordinary hand of God and the tremendous life life-saving work of Lesa and many of you in this room tonight.

“You comfort and protect us in the most difficult times of our lives,” he said. “You are the safety net for our community. I am a walking testimony that God is still transforming tragedies into triumphs.”

After the videotaping, Wendy Terry, chair of the event, was chatting with T. Kyle Swicegood, who interviewed the survivors, media consultant Darrel Bryant and Dave Smith Jr., who owns the Corners Coffee Shop in Bermuda Run where the videos were shot.

Bryant summed it up. “There are times when that good ole boy in a pickup truck is more valuable than a doctor who’s miles away,” he said.

Tickets for the Heroes Ball are $30 each for first responders and their dates and $60 each for general public. A table of 12 will cost $600. They are available on line at eventbrite.com and typing in “Davie County Heroes Ball” or by calling 336-749-0412. Only 275 tickets will be sold.

The ball is black tie optional and first responders and military people are urged to wear their uniforms since it is Veterans Day.

The committee hopes to raise $1,000 for  the Widows and Orphans Fund of the Davie County Firefighters Association. Any money raised beyond that will go to the purchase of another midsize hazardous material and multipurpose vehicle in Davie County.