On October 11, 2021, a small plane crashed into a residential neighborhood in Santee, CA, destroying a UPS truck and two homes and damaging a dozen more.
Sadly, the pilot and the UPS driver perished that day; however, things could have been worse.
Neighbors Michael Keeley, Allison Rea, Amanda Nelson, Shawn Purvis, and David Atico became extraordinary heroes when they risked their lives to assist their neighbors Maria and Phil Morris to escape the rapidly progressing fire that quickly engulfed their home.
Working from home, Michael heard an explosion and went outside to investigate where he caught up with neighbors Amanda and Allison.
As soon as they saw the smoke billowing from the Morris home, the three immediately ran toward the fire, even though all three were barefoot!
Allison arrived at an open window of the burning home where she discovered her neighbor Maria, still inside, frantically searching for her dog. Joined now by Michael and David, Allison began moving furniture and decorations away from the window to provide an escape for Maria.
Michael and another neighbor helped Maria step out of the window while hearing the sounds of explosions coming from within. Seconds later, the room was fully engulfed in flames.
Meanwhile, Maria’s husband Phil had been driven out of the house and into the backyard by rapidly moving fire and smoke. Hearing Phil calling for help, Shawn returned to the home and tore down the fence with his bare hands in order to provide Phil with an escape.
Thanks to the heroic actions and quick thinking of Michael, Allison, Amanda, Shawn, and David, their neighbors Maria and Phil Morris walked away with only minor injuries and burns.
In recognition of their heroic actions, Michael, Allison, Amanda, Shawn, and David were presented with the 2022 Nathan Hale Award for Heroism during the Awards Luncheon at the Annual Cal-Nev-Ha Kiwanis District Convention.
The Nathan Hale Award, sponsored by the Cal-Nev-Ha Children’s Fund, may be awarded each year to a recipient – or recipients working together – who demonstrate an outstanding act of courage or heroism.
Nominations for the 2023 Nathan Hale Award are now being accepted and may be submitted on our online submission form by any Kiwanis club within the CNH District. All supporting material must be uploaded when completing the online nomination form. Nominees must be residents of California, Nevada or Hawaii.