LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. - Hearts are heavy across Limestone County after three people were killed in a late night crash, just outside of Athens.
Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely says his department doesn't investigate crashes, but they always respond to them to see if they can be of assistance. By the time his deputies arrived, one of the cars had burst into flames, so they immediately sprung into action.
“A lot of people get involved in law enforcement. They want to make a difference, want to save people’s lives, want to be able to help people," says Sheriff Blakely. "One of the cars was on fire. There were two people trapped inside the vehicle. They tried to extract these people. They were able to get one of them out and they were also able to render aid to those who were still alive."
The owner of the house directly in front of the crash scene says law enforcement used their fire extinguisher to put out the flames, and when that was empty, ran over into his yard and used his hose.
They also borrowed the man's crowbar to help extract one of the victims. “In this situation, I couldn’t be prouder of the manner in which my officers responded and the actions that they took," says Blakely.
Despite doing everything in their power, it was too late for 19-year-old Justin Allred and 16-year-old Michael Swanner. Another 11-year-old victim in the other car was rushed to the hospital, but died from his injuries a short time later.
“I think some of them are really, at this point, feel like they wish they could have done more or a little bit frustrated at the fact they weren’t able to save all the people there," says Blakely.
The proud sheriff says they'll do all they can as a department to help these deputies overcome the tragedy. He says no training can prepare someone for this kind of scene, but that it makes all the difference when you hire the right people. “You can never be actually prepared to be dealing with death situations that you deal with on too frequent of occasions," he says.