6-Year-Old Receives Life Saving Award

A 6-year-old kindergarten student has been given the Odessa Fire Department's Life Saving Award for his actions that saved the life of a flower delivery man on Valentine's Day.

Derek Hefner on Wednesday accepted a plaque, accolades from department officials, students and teachers at Odessa's Compass Academy where he goes to school and gratitude from the man whose life he saved.

"I have already gone through two handkerchiefs so it's just really emotional for me," Richard Tomlin said. "I wanted to meet him so when I heard about this ceremony, I was not going to miss it. I am just so thankful for what he did for me that day."

Tomlin made a delivery, then collapsed outside in front of the school. Derek, walking inside a school hallway, spotted him fall. He alerted teachers who summoned Odessa emergency medical staff.

A grateful and teary-eyed Tomlin met Derek Wednesday for the first time since his illness Feb. 14. He told the Odessa American there "really are angels among us."

He and Derek hugged and posed for photos together.

"I saved his life," Derek said, pointing to a laughing Tomlin.

Tomlin also reached out to the boy's family and told them they had a "great son and grandson."

"Derek did a remarkable job that day and was so brave," said the school's principal, Debra Stewart.

Dr. Sudip Bose of Odessa's Medical Center Hospital said Derek serves as a great example to the community.

"Even if you have the top doctors and EMS personnel like we do here in Odessa, you still need the community involvement," he said. "It really is a team effort to save a life and this is a great example of that."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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