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Local woman receives prestigious award for heroic act that saved neighbor's life

GRETNA, Va. – A Gretna woman is being honored for her heroic act that saved the life of a neighbor. 

Perniece White came across a pickup truck on fire, called 911 and then realized her neighbor was trapped inside.

"I knew that it was going to take them a good 10 minutes to get there and I didn't know how long he had and I knew I couldn't live with myself knowing I hadn't tried something," said White. 

"I don't know how she was able to do it, by herself she was able to remove the patient from the vehicle," said Chad Logan, Gretna fire chief. 

Thursday night, Logan told the story of how White, a volunteer EMT at 5 feet tall, pulled her neighbor Phil Crews, a man at least twice her size, from the burning wreckage.

Risking her life for another with no fire training earned her a prestigious Carnegie Hero Medal.

"It means a lot to me just to know that my peers thought this much of me," said White. 

The fire department presented the medal on the Carnegie Fund's behalf Thursday.

Crews' family was in the crowd, White is now family to them.

"She's done a great job, a little girl like her and he was a big boy, so I'm grateful to her I'm glad she got this award, she much deserved it," said Sue Shelton, the victim's mom. 

In life, not every story ends well, and this is one of them, as despite the rescue Crews died three days after the crash.

But his family is eternally grateful for White, and she finds her peace in them.

"….Allowing his family to have a few days meant a lot to me, and I'm just very thankful I was able to do that," said White. 


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