Congratulations are in order for three Lubbock Firemen. On June 1, 2016 when there was flooding all over Lubbock, Station 19 was the closest fire engine to a call at Buster Long Park Playa Lake. There a man was in rapidly flowing water struggling to remain above the waters surface. Firefighters Justin Smith, Mark Westfall, and Kasey Davis jumped from the fire engine and dove straight into the almost 30 foot water and swam out to the struggling man to save him, risking their own lives to do so.
The man’s car was swept into the playa lake during the flooding by the South Plains Mall. Justin Smith says, “I just said a prayer and kept swimming.” Neither men knowing how the man would react to them trying to help him get to the shore. Mark Westfall says, “he was just exhausted. He didn’t fight us at all, we each grabbed an arm and started swimming back to shore.”
According to Lubbock Fire Rescue, “had the men not reacted quickly and risked their lives to bring the man to the shore, there could have been a very different outcome.” But to hear the heroes tell the story, they were just doing their job. Justin Smith states receiving the award was, “a very weird feeling on my part, that was just our job.” Mark Westfall chimed in saying, “I didn’t feel like we did anything spectacular, we pulled up and saw someone in need and we acted. It was pretty far out there I could kinda see him, he was sometimes above the water and sometimes not. People were hollering and so we parked, kicked off our boots and dove in. Swam out there together and and helped each other bring him back.”
I am pretty sure the man they saved saw them as heroes. Receiving the Medal of Valor is a big honor within the Lubbock Fire Department, as there have only been 43 awarded in Lubbock since the late 1990’s.