Three Lubbock firefighters receive Medal of Valor after saving m - FOX34 Lubbock

Three Lubbock firefighters receive Medal of Valor after saving man from drowning

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

Three Lubbock firefighters earned the Medal of Valor Tuesday for saving a man from drowning in a lake two years ago. 

According to the Lubbock Fire Department, this honor recognizes first responders who exhibit personal courage in an effort to rescue or protect someone, under hazardous conditions.

On June 1, 2016, a man was on top of a car, struggling to stay afloat in a South Lubbock playa lake, after mass flooding in the area.

"We were the closest one that would've been able to get there the quickest and all I remember is pulling up and opening the door, and water basically being right above the knee," Justin Smith said. 

People were yelling for help, but Mark Westfall said they could barely see the man. 

"I could kind of see him. He was sometimes above the water and sometimes not, bobbing up and down, and again, those people were hollering. So the first thing we did was we parked, kicked off the boots and dove in. We swam out there together and helped each other bring him back," Westfall said.

Westfall said the water was about 30-feet deep, and it took a team effort to save this man, as well as themselves from drowning.

"It was like, knowing that we were out there together with this guy that could possibly turn into a really bad situation and it was really comforting having someone else out there with me in case things did go wrong, and he did struggle with us," Westfall said.

Justin Smith said he was concerned for his own life in this situation. 

"I'm just personally going to say its one of the scariest moments I've ever been through, knowing that I might not make it back to shore. Because at the same time, it's not just stagnant water, it's flowing water and it's coming at you, and it's cold," Smith said.

The fire department recognized Smith, Westfall, and firefighter Kasey Davis with the Medal of Valor award for their service in saving this man's life.

However, Westfall said they were just doing their job.

"I didn't feel like we did anything spectacular... It's about helping someone in need and we acted. I didn't think twice about it. I didn't expect anything out of it. It's just a good feeling to have helped somebody," Westfall said.

The department has issued only 43 medals of valor, ranking these three in an elite list of members to earn the decoration.

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