On April 19, around 11:30 p.m., Hotchkiss deputies Chad Lloyd and Gates Shaklee were called to a structure fire at 260 East Orchard Street.
Marshal Dan Miller learned about the bravery of his two deputies the morning after the fire from Hotchkiss Fire Chief Doug Fritz.
At the May 10 Hotchkiss Town Council meeting Miller, Fritz and Mayor Wendell Koontz spoke about the incident during a ceremony where the deputies' valor was recognized.
The deputies entered the apartment which was engulfed with flames and smoke, Miller said. They attempted but were unable to extinguish the blaze.
Lloyd and Shaklee went into the apartment on their hands and knees to locate the victim, Jerry Bledsoe. They were able to pull him to safety from the bathroom. Bledsoe was later flown to Greeley to receive treatment for his critical burns.
"The atmosphere in that apartment was immediately hazardous to their health and safety. They disregarded that and went in, exemplifying some of the highest examples we expect out of our public servants," said Hotchkiss Fire Chief Doug Fritz. "I can tell you that people in our community who are older and disabled are at much greater risk of horrible death by fire. Gates and Chad prevented that. We owe them a lot of admiration, and we are pretty proud to be working with them."
Because of their bravery, Lloyd and Shaklee were awarded Medals of Valor and letters of commendation.
Mayor Wendell Koontz read from the letters of commendation which described the incident in detail. Lloyd knew the tenant was a young man dying of Huntington's disease and was disabled. When Lloyd and Shaklee arrived they could see flames in the bedroom area of the apartment. Lloyd attempted to put out the blaze while Shaklee notified the other tenants. Lloyd crawled into the burning apartment on all fours to search for the resident. The resident was found in the bathroom, severely burned, unconscious and barely breathing. Lloyd and Shaklee pulled Bledsoe out of the apartment without regard for their own safety.
"For this action of saving the life of another while placing their own lives in danger, Deputy Lloyd and Deputy Shaklee receive the award the Medal of Valor. Congratulations," Mayor Koontz said.
"These men are true heroes." Koontz added, "We are honored to have them in our community."
Lloyd was treated for smoke inhalation at the scene.
The incident happened on Shaklee's second day with the marshal's office.
"I've told them now that policemen direct fire trucks into the fire, but they don't go in," Miller said.blog comments powered by Disqus