KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- When Dennis Stevens got off work March 13th, he watched as Sgt. Lowell Russell's cruiser burst into flames.
"What I seen was the cruiser going down the wall, backwards in flames," he said.
He was the third person to get to the flaming cruiser, lending his knife to cut Sgt. Russell out of his seat belt.
"We want to recognize the people that saved Lowell's life. They committed to what they were doing. And we had a civilian that came in, that offered his services. He had no affiliation with law enforcement, he just offered his assistance as a human to safe a human life," added Sgt. Stacey Heatherly, a friend of Russell's.
Stevens, like the off duty McMinn county EMS workers and Knoxville police officers, didn't plan to save a life that morning.
"Pulling Sgt. Russell from a vehicle was not on my to-do list that morning. I was ready to go back to the station and get some rest because we had been awake all night," said paramedic Freddy Leslie.
But, he added, he was put on that highway for a reason.
"If we had been a few seconds further up the road, he could have burned up."
As for Russell, he's back to cruising Facebook; calling it "the highlight of [his] day" on the Prayers for Lowell Russell Facebook page, dedicated to his recovery.
Sgt. Russell is undergoing occupational therapy to improve his speech and motor skills. He's still wearing a halo and back brace, but he's getting around with a walker.
Russell's friends are having a benefit concert for him Saturday in Madisonville. Former American Idol Bucky Convington is performing April 15th at Sequoyah High school at 2pm.
To comment, the following rules must be followed:
Comments may be monitored for inappropriate content, but the station is under no legal obligation to do so.
If you believe a comment violates the above rules, please use the Flagging Tool to alert a Moderator.
Flagging does not guarantee removal.
Multiple violations may result in account suspension.
Decisions to suspend or unsuspend accounts are made by Station Moderators.
Links require admin approval before posting.
Questions may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please provide detailed information.