For the three officers who rescued the only survivor of a Lexington plane crash, each day comes with a reminder of their heroic efforts.
“We are constantly reminded when we go out in public,” said Lexington police officer Bryan Jared. “Not only when we are in uniform, but when we are out of uniform. People want to talk to us about the events.”
Jared and officers James “Pete” Maupin and Jon Sallee of the Blue Grass Airport’s Department of Public Safety were formally honored yesterday, when they received a “Hometown Hero” award from the Kentucky League of Cities at the Lexington Convention Center.
The award honors people who show courage and commitment in public service. Yesterday was the second time the award was given since its inception in 2002. Then, the award honored a Kentucky officer who was shot in the line of duty.
“It’s really exciting to know that you had a part in that,” said Jared, who helped pull co-pilot James Polehinke from the Flight 5191 wreckage on Aug. 27. Forty-nine people died in the crash.
Polehinke was released Tuesday from the University of Kentucky Hospital and taken to Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital.
Even before Polehinke regained consciousness, Maupin said he has visited him every week.
“We laughed, we talked, we joked,” he said of the conversations.
But Polehinke still does not remember the crash, he said.
“He said he knows that I have some holes that I can fill but knows I can’t answer them now,” Maupin said.
Jared described a time he ran into a crash victim’s family at a gas station. The family recognized him as one of the rescuers.
“It was an emotional meeting,” Jared said. “It was kind of nice to get that closure with them. I think they were appreciative of hearing more details of what took place out there.”
Maupin said he believes Polehinke will recover. Doctors amputated Polehinke’s left leg on Sept. 14 and surgically repaired his broken right foot.
“He’s determined, that’s what he told me,” Maupin said. “He wants to walk out of Kentucky. ... and I believe he will.”
The officers said they continue to cope with the tragedy.
“Time heals everything,” Sallee said.