Lee’s Summit men honored for rescuing man dying from exposure

rpulley@lsjournal.comFebruary 28, 2014 

Two Lee’s Summit men were honored this week for saving the life of another resident.

The Fire Department recognized William Wiest and Larry Roberts Feb. 26 for their roles in rescuing a patient who was fighting for life in a creek bed at Legacy Park, dying from exposure.

Fire Chief Keith Martin presented them with “Distinguised Service” plaques at a brief reception at Fire Station No. 6.

“We want to recognize their alertness and willingness to help,” Martin said.

Martin disclosed limited details of the incident on Dec. 7, 2013, at the request of the patient who wished to stay anonymous.

The man was unable to climb out of a creek bed alongside a trail on the southeast side of the park, Martin said, and suffered from severe hypothermia.

Wiest was on the trail, with his dog, and his dog hearing branches breaking, ran to the creek bed a couple of times. When no animal fled, Wiest became curious and went to look and found the man struggling to climb the bank.

Wiest ran to St. Margaret of Scotland Catholic Church, which is on Blackwell Parkway near that area, to call 911.

Roberts, who was at the church, returned with Wiest to the creek where they offered encouragement and tried to help the man get warm until help from the fire department arrived.

Martin, City Manager Steve Arbo, Councilman Bob Johnson, firefighters and the men’s families were present for the award. Martin and Arbo said Lee’s Summit is a community full of wonderful people who’ll help each other. Wiest and Roberts exemplify that spirit, they said.

Roberts said that hardly a day or week goes by that he doesn’t think about how the lucky rescue happened. The man would have perished if Wiest hadn’t come along at that moment, he said.

Wiest and Roberts said they only reacted like any citizen would.

“I didn’t do anything that was extremely special,” Wiest said. “I just happened to go on a run in the freezing cold. And I was breaking a rule, having my dog off the leash.

“Somebody was watching over him and put me at the right place at the right time.”

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