Merritt receives TBT merit award

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 6, 2003

Heroes aren't born; they just happen.

And, Gennie Merritt just happens to be a hero

One day, on her way back to work from lunch, she stopped to help pull a motorist out of a burning car. Then, she went back to work and didn't mention the incident to anyone.

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"That's just the kind of person I am," Merritt said. "I don't want to draw any attention to myself."

But, when a dozen white roses arrived for Merritt at Troy Bank & Trust, her coworkers were curious.

"The bouquet of roses was as big as a chair," said Diana Lee, marketing officer. "It was just an average day and everyone was in a scramble to know who had sent them."

Little by little, the story developed and soon everyone at TB&T knew of Merritt's heroic deed.

"Gennie had helped save someone's life, but she was so humbled by the experience that she didn't share it with us," Lee said.

But, the employees at TB&T wanted to recognize and honor Merritt, so they presented her with the bank's Red, White and Blue Hero Award and also donated $200 in her honor to the Pike County Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Merritt is appreciative of the recognition, but is also a little uncomfortable about all of the attention she has gotten.

She said she did what any caring person would do when place in an emergency situation.

"I went home to Youngblood for lunch that day because my children were home and I wanted to check on them," Merritt said. "I was on the way back to work and, when I went around the curve, I saw a car on fire."

The car had run off the road, through a gully and hit a tree.

Merritt stopped and rushed to see if she could help. A man had stopped at the same time and he, too, rushed to the scene.

"His last name was Day, but I don't know his first name," Merritt said. "The dashboard of the car was on fire and the lady couldn't get out. She was begging us to get her out and we did everything we could."

Merritt and Day unbuckled the driver's seatbelt and managed to free her from the car.

"I was afraid the car was going to explode and it did pop while we were trying to get her out," Merritt said. "We pulled her up the bank to get her away from the car and waited with her until help came."

In less than 10 minutes, Merritt said the car erupted in flames.

The driver of the car was Hilda Fannin and both legs, an arm, shoulder and several ribs were broken.

"From what we heard Mrs. Fannin was disoriented and didn't know who had helped her," Lee said. "She remembered the man, but thought the lady must have been an angel."

Merritt had not lingered at the scene of the accident.

"I had on stockings and I had mud all over me, so I went back home to change," Merritt said.

Because Merritt left the scene and because she told only a few people about the accident and her involvement, her heroic feat almost went unheralded.

If it had, Hilda Fannin would have continued to think that an angel had pulled her from the burning car.

And, her friends at TB&T said she would have still been right.