Twist of fate and act of heroism save elderly man's life

, Written by Christine Pitawanich, Posted: Mon, April 28 2014 at 6:53 PM, Updated: Mon, April 28 2014 at 10:33 PM

Central Point, Ore. -- A 78-year-old man was sent to the hospital Sunday afternoon after he was pulled from his burning home by two young men who are being called heroes.

As of Monday, Jackson County Fire District 3 officials said the man was breathing through a tube and was in an induced coma. He is still alive thanks to the heroic actions of 20-year-old Tanner Harper and his friend Travis.

The two put their own lives in danger when they ran into the elderly man's burning home located on the 600 block of North 3rd Street in  Central Point.

Investigators said the most probable cause of the fire was smoking related.

It started off as a normal day for Tanner Harper and his friend Travis. However, their Sunday afternoon quickly took a turn.

"Me and my buddy Travis were coming up North 3rd and we had happened to see the flames out of this window here," said Harper as he motioned to a blown out window.

He said they stopped the car, ran up to the house and called 911.

"You could hear the sounds of breaking glass," Harper recalled.

Then, came a cry for help from inside the burning home.

"As soon as we heard the guy yell out for help it just kind of clicked in to get him out of there," said Harper.

Taking matters into their own hands, the pair ran to the backyard and kicked open the back door.

"The flames and smoke rushed out at us and we could see the that older gentleman was caught up in his walker stuck in the hallway," Harper said.

According to Harper, he and his friend Travis went in and pulled the 78-year-old man out into the backyard.

"If the gentleman hadn't been pulled out when he did, I don't believe he would have survived," said Mark Northrop, Deputy Fire Marshal with Jackson County Fire District 3.

The deputy fire marshal and countless others are now calling
Harper and his friend, heroes.

"I don't know about that. I was just in the right place at the right time," said Harper.

True words, especially since Harper said they weren't even supposed to be there.

"We had missed a turn up the way at Table Rock and just happened to come down this road," Harper said.

A twist of fate and a dose of heroism, coming together and saving someone's life.

"It's a good feeling," began Harper.

"I just hope he's okay," he continued.

"Let's hope the gentleman survives and he can shake their hand and say thank you," said Northrop.

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About the Author

Christine Pitawanich

Christine Pitawanich was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. In 2010, she received a master's degree in Broadcast Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in New York.

Christine also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Washington.

Before joining the NBC5 News team, she had the opportunity to file reports from Washington D.C. for WFFT FOX Ft. Wayne News in Indiana. Christine has also interned at KOMO-TV in Seattle.

Christine loves to ski, try new food and have fun in the outdoors.

Catch Christine anchoring weekdays on NBC 5 News at 5pm.

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