Off Duty Illinois Firefighter and Paramedic Saves Woman Trapped Underneath Vehicle

LADUE, Ill. (AP) -- John Amenn doesn't consider himself a hero.

When the Ladue paramedic-firefighter came to the aid of a Caseyville woman who was pinned beneath a vehicle, the O'Fallon resident says he was just doing his job.

Mary Deatherage, 46, who spent a month in a coma in the intensive care unit at St. Louis University Hospital, sees things differently. She calls him her guardian angel.

"How do you tell someone who saved your life thank you?" she asked. "He didn't have to stop but he did and I can never be more grateful to anyone for that day."

Ladue Fire Chief Ted Jury, who arranged for Amenn to receive a commendation from the city, called him a hero during a presentation at City Hall on Tuesday.

"He saved a woman's life. Very simply, without his quick response it's unlikely she'd be alive today," he said.

On Oct. 25, Deatherage and Gina L. Kane, 36, of Collinsville were headed to a bingo game in O'Fallon when the Ford Taurus Kane was driving was struck at the intersection of Fountains Parkway and Old Collinsville Road in Fairview Heights.

Deatherage was ejected from the vehicle.

" I was on the road rolling, I remember it in slow motion. I landed in the ditch face down and then all of a sudden the car landed on my back," she recalled. "The only way they knew I was in the ditch was because I was screaming 'Get this car off me, I can't breathe!'"

Amenn, 30, was driving his sons, Tyler, 8, and, Nathan, 3, to a Halloween bonfire when he saw Kane's car flipping over and over in his rearview mirror. He immediately pulled over and went back to help.

Amenn tried to calm Deatherage while he waited for paramedics to arrive. Then she stopped breathing.

"From my training I knew I couldn't wait any longer for the ambulance," he said. He told several bystanders to rock the car off her and he dragged her out. Then he cleared her airway so she could breathe.

"I did something that tens of thousands of people in this country do every week," Amenn said after receiving a standing ovation before the City Council. "I was in the right place at the right time and early intervention is all I provided."

Emmerson Buie Jr., 39, of Fairview Heights, the head of the FBI office in Fairview Heights, was driving the car that hit Deatherage and Kane. Buie has been charged with failure to yield right of way from a private drive, according to Fairview Heights police. His court date is March 17.