As fate would have it, Jim Sneed took a side street on the afternoon of March 28 as he drove to his next appointment.
The service technician from was en route to a house on Goddard as he drove down Fourth Street at about 2:15 p.m.
As he passed Cedar, he happened to look down the street and noticed
He high-tailed it the house in the 400 block and realized he was the first person on the scene.
“I went up to the door and the door was open,” he said. “I heard a man in there coughing, so I went in and got him.”
That proved to be more difficult that Sneed imagined.
“It didn’t look bad from the outside looking in, but once you got in, it was bad,” he said Thursday while surrounded by fellow city workers anxious to hear the story. “From the outside, I could see him. But when I walked in the house, I couldn’t see him. The smoke was really bad. I shut my eyes and went down low. I heard him coughing. All I could see was his arm, so I hooked his arm with my arm and just pulled him out.”
As the two men came out of the house, Sneed said, firefighters were pulling up. After assisting them in determining that no one else was in the house, Sneed hopped back into his service truck and continued to his next call.
While smoke and flames were going pretty good, Sneed said, he never hesitated to run into the burning house.
“Once I banged on the door and heard him say he was inside, I knew what I had to do,” he said. “I just figured I could be quick enough to run in there, hold my breath and not get killed in the process.”
With seven years on the job installing cable, phone and Internet in Wyandotte, Sneed said, nothing remotely close to this has ever happened to him before.
“We have an exciting job, but not exciting like this,” he said. “I hope someone would come in after me if I was in there. ... I just did my duty. I didn’t really think about it. I just did it and then took off back to work.”
That’s not surprising to Sneed’s boss, John Stambersky.
“This is about the biggest hero thing we’ve had happen around here that I can remember,” he said. “It’s really wild. It’s like something out of a movie. To know someone who did something like that in real life is kind of mind bending. When he told me the story, I had no trouble believing it at all. That’s just the kind of guy he is. It’s really cool to be working with people like that. A lot of people wouldn’t do that.”
Sneed blushed with all the praise tossed at him Thursday, but said he purposely never made a big deal about what happened. The story only got out because his friend and coworker, Paula Stanko, insisted on telling everyone.
“I did what anybody would do,” Sneed said. “I know cable guys usually don’t run into blazing fires. … I was just doing my job. I seen it and wanted to help the guy. I wouldn’t want anybody to burn up like that. If I could do it again, I would do it again if I could save someone from burning up. That’s got to be an awful way to go. “
Stanko said she’s honored to work with someone who is so giving–and brave.
“Once in a lifetime, you get to be the hero,” she said to Sneed. “We’re so proud of you.”