Gladden receives Life-Saving Award
There may be some debate as to who the hero of the Gladden household is.
Ask Jonathan Gladden and he would say it's his 8-year-old son, Jonathan Jr., who, on Oct. 26, first saw smoke coming from his neighbor's house at 312 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.
Ask Jonathan Jr. and he says it's his dad for pulling an unconscious James Ellison out of the burning home.
Thomasville Police Department agreed with both of them.
TPD on Dec. 16 presented Gladden with a Life-Saving Award during the Thomasville City Council meeting in recognition of his quick thinking and disregard for his own personal safety to help a neighbor in distress.
"It's pretty neat," Gladden said. "I'm just glad I could help. When I look back on it, I would say [Jonathan Jr.] is a bigger hero than me for recognizing there was fire. I was just at the right place at the right time."
Gladden's award caps a whirlwind of accolades sent his way since that otherwise normal Saturday afternoon. He has received recognition from the City, the state legislature and his job, where the CEO of Averitt Express presented Gladden with a gold medal for his heroic actions.
"It's been overwhelming," Gladden said. "I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I hadn't tried to do something. Just being able to help somebody out is the way I was raised. In the end, I credit Little Jon with recognizing there was a fire and telling an adult."
By the time emergency personnel arrived at the scene, Gladden already had Ellison out of the home and laying on his back in the front yard. After being alerted by his son, Gladden went to the back door in an effort to locate Ellison but was unable to see through the thick, black smoke bellowing from the home. Gladden put a shirt in front of his mouth and ventured into the darkness, calling out his neighbor's name. "I kind of heard him grunt," said Gladden. "I went in a couple of feet and he actually was laying right down in front of me. He was laying at my feet and I couldn't even see him. I just heard him."
Cpl. Steve Currie, who presented Gladden with the Life-Saving Award, arrived at the scene moments later.
"I was 20 feet from the residence when the fire department began to ventilate the home and the smoke nearly took my breath away," Currie said. "It is my opinion that had Mr. Gladden failed to act in the timely fashion that he did, with disregard to his own safety, Mr. Ellison would've suffered much more serious injuries and perhaps death."
Jonathan Jr. isn't surprised. Having a hero for a father is something he's gotten used to by now.
"It feels great because I've known since I was a baby that my dad is a hero," said Jonathan Jr.
While the hero debate in the Gladden home appears to be a draw, the real winner is an appreciative neighbor who gets to see another Christmas thanks to a quick-thinking father-son duo who both were at the right place at the right time .
Staff Writer Eliot Duke can be reached at 888-3578, or firstname.lastname@example.org.