3 Opp officers put lives at risk to save man in burning home

3 Opp officers put lives at risk to save man in burning home
Opp police officers Lt. Heather Koerner, Lt. Donnell Weatherford and patrol officer Chad Duffell, risked their own lives to save a man in a burning home. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

OPP, Ala. (WSFA) - It was a daring effort to save a man trapped inside a burning home. Three police officers risked their own lives to save his. It happened near Dry Creek Road, south of Opp.

Life delivered a challenge the likes Lt. Heather Koerner, Lt. Donnell Weatherford and patrol officer Chad Duffell had never faced. That is until last Thursday.

“You could see the fire coming out," Koerner recalled. “We weren’t going to stop until we got him out.”

The 911 call; a house fire. A possible entrapment.

“We could hear the man inside making noises,” added Duffell who opened the door and battled the smoke to move furniture out of the way.

“That’s when I knelt down and yelled for Mr. Wise,” Koerner said.

And right behind her? “I took a deep breath, held my breath, went in, grabbed Mr. Wise by the left arm, turned and started pulling him out the door,” Weatherford said.

Together, the two rescued Paul Wise and brought him out to the fresh air on the front porch, barely conscious and overcome with smoke so dark, so dense it was hard to see much of anything inside his home.

“It was a little scary trying to get it all out. I started cutting his shirt off and rescue started getting the gurney on the porch,” said Koerner.

Sadly, Wise died three days later. He was 86. But the officers say they have no regrets and would do it all again in a heartbeat.

“I don’t consider myself one,” said Duffell when asked if he is a hero.

“I will always hate that he did not survive after we were able to get to him and get him out,” Weatherford added.

An investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing.

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