County native hailed as a hero

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By The Staff

By Jimmie Earls

Sun Staff Writer

A Washington County native has received a Citizens Meritorious Citation for helping to rescue two people from a burning automobile in Lexington last January. William “Mac” Blair, a 2005 graduate of Washington County High School, was presented the award from the Lexington Division of Fire and Emergency Services' annual Fire Awards Banquet on March 6.

According to a post on the department's Web site, “These are for individuals, a crew, or a number of crews whose courage, thinking, and professionalism turned probable loss of life emergencies into saved life outcomes instead.”

Blair, an employee of the Kentucky Department of Transportation, was operating a salt truck on Old Frankfort Pike in Lexington on the morning of Jan. 31 when he stopped to help a stranded motorist with a flat tire. While attending to the flat tire, a car slammed into the back of his salt truck and burst into flames.

“When it first happened, I didn't know if it really happened,” said Blair. “I thought a gunshot had gone off because I couldn't see the back the truck because I was in the front. I saw pieces of headlights flying up the road where I was standing. I ran behind the truck and saw it was a car that was already smoking. By the time we got to the car to see if everyone was OK, it had already caught fire. We used two fire extinguishers on it, trying to put the fire out first, but that didn't really help much.”

Blair, the two stranded motorists and Sebastian Murat, a worker from a nearby horse farm, managed to pull the injured passenger out of the car through the windshield.

“We couldn't get the passenger door open,” said Blair. “The passenger regained consciousness and he stood up through the windshield which was busted out and me and another guy pulled him out and got him over by the fence.”

Next, the men attended to the vehicle's driver.

“The driver never become conscious and the flames starting to catch the car's dash on fire, so we had to get him out of there,” added Blair. “We yanked him out and we laid down some coats and stuff and put him on the road, we had the road blocked off, and the cops got there right after that.”

The passenger later recovered from their injuries, but the driver did not survive the crash.

Blair was born and raised just outside of Springfield in the Simmstown Road area. He has worked for the Kentucky Transportation Department since mid-August 2009.

“Before that I just worked different jobs, landscaping and so forth,” Blair said. “I had just gotten my CDL license and I deal with anything that has to do with the side of the roads – weeds, sowing grass seed, cutting down brush and stuff. But this (accident) is something that I didn't expect at all. The citation was unexpected, too. It felt pretty good, I guess.”

When it came time to step up and save a life, Blair was just one person who was in the right place at the right time.

“Or the wrong place,” he said.