Two passers-by who pulled a man from a car on fire have been recognised for their heroism with a bravery award this week.
John Sheehan and Qais Ahmad were just going about their normal business on the morning of February 1 when their actions saved the life of a man who had crashed into a tree between Carlby and Braceborough.
And this week, the pair were recognised for their actions at the Lincolnshire Police Bravery Awards, both receiving the Citizen of the Year Award and Royal Humane Society Award of Testimonial on Vellum.
The awards were presented at a ceremony at the police’s headquarters in Lincoln on Monday. The awards are given to officers, staff and members of the public for exceptional acts of selflessness, diligence and bravery.
The drama unfolded early in the morning on February 1. Mr Sheehan, who works as a personal trainer, was returning to his home in Braceborough after an early morning run and spotted a car that had crashed and debris across the road.
Realising he was the first on the scene, he got out to help. Mr Ahmad, who is believed to be a local taxi driver, arrived soon after.
Mr Sheehan said: “We saw the driver slumped over the wheel. We tried to get in but the car was locked and we couldn’t break the windows with our hands. The car was already burning at the front.”
Just a few days before, Mr Sheehan had been putting up signs for a local event and remembered he had a hammer in his car. He used it to break the back window of the car and reached in to unlock the door.
Just seconds after Mr Sheehan and Mr Ahmad pulled the man to safety, the car exploded into flames and in a citation read during Monday’s ceremony, guests heard it took just 10 minutes for the car to be totally destroyed in the blaze.
The pair then called the emergency services and Mr Sheehan called his wife Janine, who is a doctor, to help while they waited for the air ambulance and other emergency vehicles to arrive.
The citation, which left many guests at the ceremony in tears, read: “This was a true act of heroism from two members of the public who have no experience and training for such a stressful and frightening event.”
But while Mr Sheehan said he was honoured to receive the award, he brushed off being called a hero.
He said: “As soon as I saw the car, I just knew something wasn’t right.
“I didn’t think about it, the first thought was just to get him out of the car before it really took off.
“The first instinct was to help - I’m sure anyone would have done the same thing.”
The Mercury has been unable to contact Mr Ahmad for a comment.
The man the pair saved is still recovering from the injuries he sustained in the crash.
Constable Helen Morris said: “It is without doubt that the quick thinking and decisive actions taken by Mr Ahmad and Mr Sheehan that day have saved the victim’s life. He suffered many injuries and is still recovering from his terrible ordeal.
“Their bravery was outstanding and far beyond what is expected from members of the public in such circumstances.
“Mr Ahmad and Mr Sheehan put themselves in harm’s way and acted selflessly to save another life. This was done without hesitation and they have shown great courage in getting so close to a burning vehicle.”
Among the other recipients on the night were former chief constable Frank Amey, who received the Copper’s Copper award; Jessica Poole who got the Stacey Pike Student of the Year award; former constable Matthew Longstaffe who was given the Outstanding Professionalism Award; and Special Inspector Robert Mckay, who was was recognised as the Special Constabulary Officer of the Year.