Firefighter Hero

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Jeremy Hailey

Firefighter saves elderly man hurt, trapped by fire

By Billy Davis

Terrell Cockrell of Pope, who was severely burned in a grass fire, got to return home last Friday.

He has to make two more trips to a Brandon, Miss. hospital, where doctors will put clean bandages on both arms and his left leg. But at least he is alive.

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Cockrell, 70, was attempting to beat back the fire behind his Vassar Road home, when he fell in the flames on Monday March 8.

The date of the fire coincided with Cockrell’s liver transplant, to the day, four months earlier.

The fire had caused first and second degree burns when Jeremy Hailey, a Pope volunteer firefighter, saw the elderly man and helped him to safety.

Hailey said Cockrell was clinging to a barbed wire fence, unable to walk. His arms were heavily burned, his left shin was blistered, and the fire had singed his hair and eyebrows.

“He was screaming for help,” said Hailey.

Cockrell, when he was taken to safety, was transported by helicopter to the Burn Clinic at Crossgates River Oak Hospital in Brandon.

Cockrell and his brother Gerald were burning off the garden when the flames jumped into nearby woods. Gerald said he was putting a tiller in the shed when he noticed the fire had spread. A short time later, he asked firefighters to look for his brother, who was missing.

“The fire just overtook him,” said brother Gerald Cockrell. “He said his left leg gave out.”

Gerald Cockrell said Hailey “could have very well saved my brother’s life,” though he also doubted that the injuries were life threatening.

The fire had gobbled approximately five acres before it was knocked down, said the brother.

The March 8 grass and woods fire was just one of 24 grass fires of which county firefighters responded during March 6, 7 and 8, when a stretch of warm, dry weather wooed people outside.  

Hailey said Pope firefighters also responded to an automobile wreck and a home medical call Monday.

Hailey, 23, has served with Pope Volunteer Fire Department since he was 15 years old. He is employed as a patrolman for the Batesville Police Department.