Tire Tech George Presented With Key to City for Life-Saving Efforts
On Friday morning, Warehouse Tire employee George McKernon was recognized for his prompt and heroic efforts he took two weeks earlier on Friday morning, Sept. 29.
That's when five people were injured in a three-vehicle accident at Broadway and Engineer.
According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, an eastbound 2010 Chevy Tahoe, driven by 31-year-old Kayla R. Blakely of Houstonia, failed to stop at the stop light and struck a northbound 2022 International, driven by 33-year-old Brandon J. Hill of Sedalia.
After impact, the International (City truck) overturned and came to rest on top of the Tahoe and a westbound 2004 Ford Expedition, driven by 66-year-old Ronald J. Hicken, of Smithton.
Hill suffered serious injuries and was flown to University of Missouri Hospital by Staff For Life.
Blakley suffered moderate injuries and was transported to Bothwell Regional Health Center by PCAD.
Her passenger, a five-year-old female, also from Houstonia, suffered serious injuries and was flown to Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City by the Children's Mercy Helicopter.
Two passengers in the International, 27-year-old Jacob A. Weeks and 42-year-old Troy Harms, both of Sedalia, both suffered minor injuries. Both were transported to Bothwell Regional Health Center by PCAD.
None of the injured were wearing seat belts at the time of the crash, according to the report. Hicken was wearing his seat belt, and was uninjured, the report said.
All three vehicles were totaled and towed.
McKernon heard the crash and responded immediately.
“I was in there changing a tire on a car,” McKernon said, motioning towards the garage area, “and it sounded like bombs going off outside, so I went out there and seen what was going on, and seen the guys climbing out of the truck, and went over there and helped the lady with the kid, then went back and seen the guy under the truck, and it dawned on me to go get the jacks and jack it up,” he recalled.
“I thought I should save his life, help him out,” McKernon responded when asked what his thoughts were at that moment. He added while he was working with one jack, that there was one other City worker helping him with the other four-ton pneumatic jack being used at the scene of the crash to free the trapped worker.
“I lifted (the truck) up enough to where the windshield didn't start cracking on it and fall back on his head,” McKernon said.
The tire technician has only been on the job at Warehouse for four-and-a-half months, and this was the first major crash he has witnessed there. “It happens all the time, they've told me.”
The father of four (two boys and two girls, ages 19, 17, 12 & 11) was presented with a key to the City by Sedalia Mayor Andrew Dawson Friday morning.
“Today would have been completely different, we would have been attending a funeral had this gentleman not acted immediately, and ran out and put jacks underneath that truck and got the pressure off that individual,” Mayor Dawson commented at the start of the presentation.
“I just can't express enough my gratitude for you doing that,” Dawson told McKernon.
The Mayor then presented McKernon with a plaque with his name on it, and a gold-colored key recognizing McKernon's exceptional valor, quick thinking and selfless actions, which saved the life of a City employee.
The Mayor indicated that Brandon is doing better after undergoing surgery on his shoulder last week. He was the one who was pinned under the truck. “The other two are doing alright,” Dawson said.
Also, reports indicate that the five-year-old girl from Houstonia who suffered serious injures in the wreck, was doing okay as well.
The presentation was also attended by City Administrator Kelvin Shaw, Public Works Director Chris Davies, Justin Bray, manager of Sedalia's Street Operations and Maintenance, Sedalia Fire Chief Matt Irwin and a crew of Sedalia firefighters, Fourth Ward Councilman Steve Bloess, Sedalia Police Command Staff Josh Howell and Adam Hendricks, and Sedalia Mayor Pro Tem Rhiannon Foster.
When asked what she thought of George, Foster replied “He's a fantastic guy. I walked right up to him and said 'I'm gonna hug ya' and he said 'okay' ... he's great.”
“And you could just tell that was just second nature for him to just 'boom' be there. A lot of people drive by these wrecks, and they're too busy taking a picture of it, or simply not helping. He was so humble,” Foster said of McKernon.
After the presentation, people lined up to shake McKernon's hand and thank him for his quick thinking and prompt, life-saving action. McKernon then went back to work as a tire technician at Warehouse. Friday the 13th was a good day for George.
Key To The City
Gallery Credit: Randy Kirby