Officer saves elderly woman from burning home

By Wayne Bryan Originally Published January 10, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated January 8, 2013 at 3:20 p.m.
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PHOTO BY: Curt Youngblood

Officer Chris Goss with the Benton Police Department talks about rescuing a bedridden woman from a burning home the day after Christmas.

— On the snowy morning after Christmas, a fire broke out in a home on Derby Road in Benton, sending black smoke out of all four sides of the roof.

First to respond to the 911 call for help was Officer Chris Goss of the Benton Police Department. Told there was a resident inside who was bedridden, the officer searched the home, sometimes crawling under the smoke, and found 88-year-old Jessie Flowers in a back room.

Unable to return through the flaming house, Goss carried Flowers to a back door that by then had been opened by firefighters from the Benton Fire Department.

In a news conference with the media on Jan. 3, Goss said while he felt good that he was able save Flowers’ life, he had only done what he was expected to do.

“I was doing what everybody else would do,” Goss said. “I was doing my job.”

In fact, this is not the first time the veteran officer has carried someone from a burning building. He said that several years ago, he pulled someone from a house filled with smoke in Shannon Hills when he was with another law enforcement agency.

Goss said his actions are not something an officer really thinks about at the time.

“It’s instinct,” he said. “Don’t go out to get in a dangerous situation, but if you need to help get someone out, you go.”

Goss said he has also faced other dangers during his career as a police officer, but he would not elaborate.

“We risk our lives every day,” he said.

Goss said he was dispatched to the fire just after 10 a.m. Dec. 26. As the first of the emergency personnel who arrived at the scene, he entered the house and found Flowers’ daughter, Jan Adams-Byers, in a hallway.

She had lived in the house since early in 2012 to take care of her mother and her mother’s sister, Donna Parker, the owner of the house.

Adams-Byers said her husband and daughter were in town for the holidays, staying in the living room. She said they had heard a noise they discovered was from a fire burning in the house.

“We called 911, and we knew they would be here in just a few minutes, and we felt Mother was not in any danger,” Adams-Byers said in a telephone conversation after the incident was announced by the Police Department. “We were calm and thought she would be fine.”

By the time Goss arrived, the kitchen was in flames, and the blaze was spreading. He was told Flowers was in the back of the house. Moving under the smoke, he found Flowers in the bedroom. According to the police report, Goss then picked up the woman and carried her out.

“We talked, and she thanked me for getting her out,” Goss said. He carried her to a neighbor’s home, where she was turned over to paramedics.

Benton Fire Chief Bill Ford said the rear of the house was gutted by the fire, and the roof was damaged, along with a vehicle parked in the carport of the house. The exact cause of the fire had not been determined Friday.

Benton Police Lt. Kevin Russell, public information officer for the department, said Goss’ actions deserve special recognition.

“We feel the actions Officer Goss took that day went far beyond the normal call of duty of a police officer and that his heroic actions should be commended,” Russell said.

Adams said her mother called the officer very brave.

“I hated that her house burned up,” Goss said, “but the house can be replaced. She can’t.”

Staff writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at (501) 244-4460 or wbryan@arkansasonline.com.

Tri-Lakes Edition Writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at 501-244-4460 or wbryan@arkansasonline.com.

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