FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Whelen Engineering Announces 2019 Everyday Champion
Tow truck operator Andre Harris rescued an infant from a burning vehicle
Chester, Connecticut, November 14, 2019 – Whelen Engineering today announced their 2019 Everyday Champion, Andre Harris, a tow truck operator for Bambarger Wrecker Service in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Harris rescued an infant from a burning vehicle on the night of July 28, 2018.
Andre was driving his tow truck back from a call when he took a detour due to a local fire department closing off a road to fight a house fire. Driving down Route 171 in Northport, Alabama, he saw a woman in the road frantically trying to flag him down. Off the shoulder and down a small hill, he noticed a car overturned and in flames.
Jumping out of his truck, he asked if anyone was still inside. The woman told him her 7-month-old baby was trapped in the vehicle. She had gotten the infant out of his car seat, but could not get him out of the car.
“I remember the look on her face when she said her baby was in the car, it was that of a scared mother,” said Harris. “All I could think was, that mother is not going to see her baby die in that fire tonight.”
He ran down the hill and tried each door handle. He began punching the windows and after no luck, laid on his stomach and backhanded a window twice, breaking it.
The smoke was so dense that difficult for him to keep his eyes open as he felt around for the infant. The fire had increased in intensity, and he could feel the baby’s ankle. He pulled him out and cradled him in his left arm, running back up the hill to his mother. Worried that the car would burst into flames, he ushered them safely behind his tow truck.
“What we do in the tow and recovery business is fairly routine. We work a lot with first responders, that’s nothing new. But this was a unique experience in that he was the first responder. That is not your typical day,” said Billy Green, Operations at Bambarger Wrecker Service. “He has a very soft heart, especially for the kids. He’s going to do whatever he needs to do to help somebody out.”
Whelen’s Everyday Champion annually celebrates and recognizes outstanding emergency services individuals or groups and honors those who demonstrate bravery and courage during an act of exceptional valor, working tirelessly every day to help people and make our communities safer.
Whelen Everyday Champions receive distinction in the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina, in the Whelen Hall of Champions. The Everyday Champions portion of the exhibit inspires greatness with a showcase of their story of heroism, bravery, and honor.
Past Champions include Trooper Jay Farmer of Washington State Patrol, firefighters Rich Petras, Ron Vargo, and David Shantery of Cleveland Fire Department, Officer Brandi Kamper of Fort Worth Police Department, Assistant Fire Chief Darren Ware and Deputy Fire Chief Tyrone Wells of Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department, Fire Captain Darin Peterson of St. Charles Fire Department, and Paramedic Eric Watkins of Plainfield Fire District.
Whelen is honored to induct Andre Harris into the Whelen Hall of Champions. His exhibit will be unveiled on November 23, 2019, at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, NC.
About Whelen Engineering
Whelen revolutionized emergency warning technology with the invention of the first rotating “anti-collision” beacon in 1952. Today, Whelen continues to push the boundaries of innovation with reliable and powerful lights, sirens, control systems, and software. Whelen encompasses two state-of-the-art facilities in Connecticut and New Hampshire, with over 750,000 square feet of engineering and manufacturing space. With quality as our foundation, we celebrate innovative engineering in every product we produce.