When 17-year-old Justin Thomason saw a car wreck involving two fellow Sequoyah High School students, he sprang into action, saving a classmate's life.
"I just knew what I had to do, no ifs, ands or buts about it," Thomason said humbly during a presentation honoring his heroism at Wednesday's Hamilton County Commission. "If I don't, he's not going to be here tomorrow."
On Oct. 30, Thomason was following his friend as the pair drove on West Ridge Trail Road in Soddy-Daisy when the friend crashed his vehicle into a tree. Thomason quickly ran to the friend and, without any trauma training, tied a tourniquet around his injured arm to prevent serious blood loss.
"It was all instinct," Thomason said. "You just [have] to stop the bleeding. You see it on TV, you know, a tourniquet belt improvised, and you read these stories of people doing it and I guess that's just what I thought."
The teenager was honored Wednesday by the commission with a proclamation for his heroic action, joined by his parents, his principal and leaders of the Dallas Bay Volunteer Fire Department.
"It's an honor as a principal and an educator to get to recognize and honor [students]," Sequoyah High School Principal Amy Myhan said. "Justin will tell you, and he came in and said the day after this happened, 'I'm not a hero, I don't want to be honored as a hero. I just did what anyone would do.' I said no, not everybody could and not everybody would."
County Commission Chairman Randy Fairbanks presented Thomason, who has told his principal that he wants the incident to encourage his peers to be prepared for emergencies, with a certificate of the proclamation, recognizing his overall character.
"When the school was told what happened, some of the teachers made comments. One teacher's comment stuck out to me the most. When they were told what Justin did and what had happened, they said 'It doesn't surprise me at all,'" Fairbanks noted. "That speaks volumes."
Other commissioners joined Fairbanks in honoring Thomason, encouraging his "calling" to help others.
"That's amazing. Just sheer determination, instinct and bravery," District 2 Commissioner Chip Baker said after the presentation. "On behalf of all of us, congratulations."
Contact Sarah Grace Taylor at 423-757-6416, email@example.com or on Twitter @_SarahGTaylor.
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