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Grateful to the heroes among us: Editorial

Posted 1/29/19

We have many heroes in our midst.

We have police officers, firefighters, first responders, and members of our military. We have volunteers who help out with myriad local efforts. There are way too …

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Grateful to the heroes among us: Editorial

Posted

We have many heroes in our midst.

We have police officers, firefighters, first responders, and members of our military. We have volunteers who help out with myriad local efforts. There are way too many types of heroes to mention here.

But what Jennifer Lynn Dixon and Aaron Andrew Young did on Nov. 25, 2016, stands out.

Ordinary people. Extraordinary actions.

The story reads like a movie. It makes you think about how basic little decisions we make every day can change our lives and those of others. If things would have played out slightly differently, two young people likely would have died in a fiery crash.

Dixon told our Dan Miller in a story in the Jan. 23 edition that she doesn’t know why she turned down Stoner Drive that November evening, because it wasn’t on the way to where she planned to go to celebrate after Middletown’s big football playoff win over Scranton Prep in Bethlehem that night.

“What if we had gone straight?” Dixon asks herself today. “We would have heard about it on the news, or maybe we would have just waited and called 911. They would have burned and died. I did not want that on my conscience.”

She is referring to Joey Keating and Scott Shaffer, who also were at the game. They were involved in a fiery crash on Stoner Drive. The actions of Dixon and her mother, Mavis, both of Middletown, are credited with saving the life of Keating, at the time an 18-year-old Middletown Area High School graduate. Young is credited with saving the life of Shaffer, at the time a 19-year-old 2015 Blue Raider grad. Rick Cruz, a Lower Swatara Township resident who lives near Young and who was driving down Stoner Road and stopped to render aid, also played a role in the rescue.

Young was sitting in his recliner watching television when he heard the crash.

At first he didn’t see anything, but “something kept telling me to look the other way.” When he did, Young could see the orange glow of something that he knew was on fire.

Two people were doing things they do every day. Driving a car. Watching television. Little did they know what awaited them.

The pair pulled Keating and Shaffer from the burning car.

Think about that. They pulled two people from a car that was on fire, setting aside substantial personal risk to aid others — people they didn’t even know.

Well, they thought they didn’t know them. Even that part of the story is like a movie. Young did have ties to both Keating and Shaffer. Keating’s father, Brian, is good friends with Young’s sister’s husband. Young’s wife, Kristy, knew Scott Shaffer’s dad, Tom Shaffer, from years before when Kristy was a teacher in the Central Dauphin School District.

“We know these people,” it dawned on Young as he sat in an ambulance moments after rescuing Shaffer, for the first time starting to wrap his head around what he had just done.

Rightfully so, they are being recognized nationally for their actions. The Carnegie Hero Fund Commission announced in December that Dixon and Young are among 18 people throughout all of the United States and Canada chosen to receive the Carnegie Medal for acts of “extraordinary heroism.”

“I’ll probably never get that opportunity again, but it felt pretty darn good,” Young recalled of that night. “It went about as good as it could for a bad situation. The stars kind of aligned for those boys to survive that night.”

What if he hadn’t checked on the noise he heard that night? What if Dixon had taken a different route? Our lives are often affected by the little decisions just as much as the big ones.

“In a lifetime, I never thought I would be put in that situation. I am thankful I reacted the way I did,” Dixon said.

So are we. So is the entire Middletown community.

Thank you. We all hope we can be as heroic as you if the opportunity arises.