- [S4] Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee), 24 Feb 2004.
Rev. Dewey S. Loveday obituary
- [S27] The Daily Times, http://www.thedailytimes.com/, (Blount County, Tennessee), 7 Dec 2007.
Officer saves accident victim
Mark Boxley/The Daily Times
An Alcoa Police officer surveys the damage of a serious accident Thursday at the intersection of Wright Road and Harding Street.
By Mark Boxley
of The Daily Times Staff
An Alcoa Police officer saved the life of an accident victim Thursday by jumping into a burning vehicle and dragging the driver to safety just moments before the truck became engulfed in flames.
The injured victim, Gabriel Breeden, 31, Estates Drive, Seymour, was taken by Rural/Metro Ambulance Service to University of Tennessee Medical Center where he was listed in serious but stable condition.
The officer, Dek Melton, not only got Breeden out of the burning SUV, he pulled him a good ways from the accident scene, said Alcoa Fire Department Lt. Bill Smock.
“He drug him on top of that hill there,” Smock said of the area around the scene of the accident at Wright Road and Harding Street.
The accident involved two vehicles at the intersection at about 4:15 p.m. and happened after Melissa Holder, 42, Summer Hill Drive, Friendsville, turned left from Harding Street onto the southbound lane of Wright Road, said Alcoa Police Sgt. Hank Morris. According to Holder, she had already made the turn when Breeden came toward her heading northbound in the southbound lane, Morris said. He said Holder reported that she swerved to miss Breeden, but he swerved at the same time and in the same direction, which resulted in the accident.
Morris said there were no other witnesses to the collision, and due to Breeden’s injuries, officers have not been able to hear his account of the wreck. Holder was not transported by Rural/Metro, but was taken by a private vehicle to a local hospital.
The same intersection — Wright Road at Harding Street — was the site of an accident on July 10 that turned fatal when one of the victims died the next day.
Morris said that when Melton arrived on the scene, he was told that the driver of the burning vehicle may have already fled the scene on foot. While he was tending to the other victim in the accident, Melton said he heard something and looked over and saw that Breeden was still in the vehicle. He ran to the burning Chevrolet Blazer and got the man out of the vehicle just before the flames overtook it entirely, he said.
The truck was “nearly fully engulfed” in flames, Melton said, but somehow he was able to get Breeden out of the vehicle without being injured himself. And he’s not sure exactly how that happened, considering how far the fire had progressed in Breeden’s vehicle.
“To be honest with you, sir, I really don’t have any idea,” he said. “The only thing I can say is by the grace of God neither of us were hurt more than we were.”
Morris said Melton saved Breeden’s life in that moment.
“(Breeden) definitely would have been killed if Dek hadn’t gotten him out,” he said. “He’s an outstanding officer.”
Melton was not injured in the rescue, but was taken to Blount Memorial Hospital as a precaution due to exposure to Breeden’s blood.
Smock said Melton’s actions definitely were the difference between life and death for the injured driver of the SUV.
“If (Melton) wouldn’t have done it, (the driver) wouldn’t have made it,” Smock said. “The whole car was engulfed — front to back, top to bottom.
“That thing was probably the worst car fire I’ve seen in a while,” he said. “(Melton is) definitely the hero of the day for that.”
But Melton disagrees.
“I don’t want to be portrayed as any type of hero,” he said. “I didn’t do anything that any of my brother and sister officers wouldn’t have done.
“It’s just part of the job.”
The investigation into the accident is ongoing and so far no traffic citations have been issued in conjunction with it, Morris said.