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Deputy and good samaritan rescue 92-year-old man from burning Ohio home

<i>WEWS</i><br/>A Summit County deputy and a Coventry Township neighbor are being hailed as heroes after rescuing a 92-year-old man from a burning home.
A Summit County deputy and a Coventry Township neighbor are being hailed as heroes after rescuing a 92-year-old man from a burning home.

By Bob Jones

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    COVENTRY TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WEWS) — A Summit County deputy and a Coventry Township neighbor are being hailed as heroes after rescuing a 92-year-old man from a burning home.

The blaze broke out around 5 p.m. May 10 at the Keeling family home on Olden Avenue.

Deputy Brian Gorham heard the fire call, rushed to the Portage Lakes neighborhood and quickly realized there was no time to waste.

His body worn-camera was rolling as he ran up a hill, hurdled over a railing and entered a front door as flames shot up the front of the home. He recalled the adrenaline rush.

“I can’t even describe it because you just know that there’s an emergency. You know you have to get in there— that people need help,” Gorham said.

The deputy spotted Thomas Keeling, 92, who was inside a bedroom but unable to walk or escape on his own.

Moments later, Gorham noticed someone else was inside the house.

It turned out that Don Sedlock, who lives in the neighborhood, was driving down to a boat dock when he spotted the fire and went into the home even before the deputy arrived.

For a brief moment, Sedlock considered that his life could be in danger.

“You could hear the propane tank and kept thinking like what about gas lines and things like that?” Sedlock said.

Quickly, the strangers in the frightening situation worked together to become rescuers by carrying the man out of the fire.

“He said, ‘I’m gonna get him by the shoulders. You get him by the legs and just get out as quick as we can,'” Sedlock told News 5.

Video captured Gorham reassuring the elderly man as he was carried away from the home as the flames shot higher.

“I got to get you safe,” Sedlock told him.

The deputy had also instructed Keeling’s son, Danny Keeling, and his wife, Karen Keeling, to get out, which they did on their own. Although, Gorham said Karen Keeling briefly went back into the home. As the deputy started to go after her, she came out holding a dog.

Shea Duckworth said she will be forever grateful for the actions of Gorham and Sedlock. Thomas Keeling is her grandfather. Danny Keeling is her father.

“That’s above and beyond. That’s a true man who put himself aside and cares about others more than he does himself,” Duckworth said.

The family lost many of their belongings, but they are counting their blessings that everyone— and several dogs— survived. The fire victims are now staying at a hotel in Akron or with family.

“So far, we’re pulling together and trying to make everything work out for the best,” Duckworth said.

Gorham and Sedlock said they acted on instinct and debated on the hero status.

“In my mind, Mr. Sedlock is the true hero of this situation,” Gorham said.

But Sedlock was quick to reverse the praise.

“It’s the first responders who are truly the heroes,” he said. “They do this stuff day in and day out.

In Duckworth’s mind, the answer is easy: Both men are heroes.

“You love that person. I know they could be a total stranger, but they step up to the plate and get things done and start saving lives,” she said.

Coventry Township Lt. Brian Langenek said the family was cooking steaks on a grill when the fire started. A grease fire on the grill led to a propane explosion and flames spread to the home, he explained.

Langenek hopes the fire reminds others about taking precautions as grilling season heats up.

“Make sure your grill is maintained, remove the grease, and make sure there’s space between the house and always keep an eye on it,” Langenek said.

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