Injured Laker recognized for bravery in deck collapse

Contributed by Judy Fish

Derrell Alexander, his family members, and Lake first responders. Photo by Mike Feazel

Nearly a month after a deck collapsed seriously injuring Laker Derrell Alexander and two others, Alexander was recognized by Lake Monticello Volunteer Fire & Rescue for his heroic actions, which were credited with saving a child.

Alexander, another adult and a child were injured June 26 when a deck collapsed at 443 Jefferson Drive. Alexander was injured badly enough with multiple injuries, to require transportation by Pegasus to the University of Virginia Medical Center  and the others were transported to U.Va. by the rescue squad, Lake Monticello Fire & Rescue officials reported at the time.

The deck was about 10 feet by 12 feet and located 15 feet off the ground, said Lake Monticello Fire Chief Richie Constantino, adding that the collapse caused some rescue difficulties, which were “quickly overcome by our members who assessed the gravity and severity of the incident and injuries.”

At the award presentation last night, Constantino praised Alexander’s quick actions. Witness’s statements indicated that the victims were standing on the deck at the time of the collapse just after 8 p.m., when, without warning, the deck began to fall to the ground, according to the Civilian Award Citation written by the Fire Chief. “Derrell Alexander instinctively grabbed the child and shielded her from harm using his own body for protection and ‘rode’ the deck down to ground, where it flipped over trapping the victims underneath,” the citation reads.

“The actions of Derrell Alexander were quick, selfless and truly heroic. His successful efforts saved the toddler from danger, serious physical injury and possible death, which involved exceptional courage and bravery. As Chief of the Lake Monticello Fire Department, I am both proud and honored to recommend Derrell Alexander for a civilian award.”

“Today I accepted the Civilian Award from Lake Monticello Volunteer Fire & Rescue,” Alexander posted on his Facebook Page. “I want to thank this crew from the bottom of my heart, my family and last but not least, Charles Ford and Destani Archer. They all kept me alive that day. I am forever thankful. Just to be able to walk is a blessing…Next week I start physical therapy and I’m going to push myself to get back to where I was.”

Chief Constantino also praised his team. “The speed, coordination and professionalism of both fire and rescue personnel allowed for the rapid triage, treatment and transportation, by air and ground, of those with significant injuries,” Constantino said, and that “allowed for their rapid patient care and overall positive outcomes.”

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