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Neighborhood news

In a crisis, teen put safety first

By MEGAN VOELLER
Published May 25, 2007


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When an adult was in trouble, instinct kicked in for fifth-grader Thomas Savoie.

Toward the end of the school day on April 24, as parents lined up their cars in the parking lot of Brandon's Kingswood Elementary, Thomas was performing his duties for the safety patrol when cafeteria worker Carmen Martinez passed out in the parking lot.

As Kingswood staff called an ambulance, Thomas, 14, without being told what to do, rerouted traffic and explained the delay to waiting parents.

Martinez, who remained unconscious after the ambulance arrived, awoke just as medical personnel were about to call a helicopter.

For his quick thinking, Kingswood's principal and staff from safety patrol sponsor AAA Auto Club South honored Thomas on Tuesday during a ceremony celebrating fifth-graders' graduation.

AAA Division Manager John Pecchio and school safety patrol coordinator Alida Shrader presented Thomas with the safety patrol medal of honor, a silver medallion and ribbon, and a $100 gift card. Kingswood principal Craig Burkhard gave a framed patrol belt and certificate to Thomas.

"That's what a hero does. They step up to the plate and do what they're supposed to do whenever they're needed, " Burkhard said the crowd.

Martinez, who recovered and came back to work, also thanked Thomas. Earlier this month, school superintendent Mary Ellen Elia commended him during a School Board meeting.

Lunchroom staff said they already knew Thomas well before the incident, because he often arrived early and helped prepare the cafeteria for the day.

"I call him school security, him and another boy, " said teacher Yolanda Guerra.

For Thomas, who will attend Rodgers Middle School next year, all the recognition feels "like butterflies in my stomach, " he said.

When asked what he'd like to do when he grows up, Thomas smiled: "be like a cop or something, " he said.

[Last modified May 24, 2007, 07:45:27]


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