PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) -- A house fire victim is aided by a most unexpected hero. One of the state's highest elected officials becomes a lifesaver on a mid-morning trip to Northeast Arkansas. Lt. Governor Bill Halter was headed to Paragould to discuss efforts for a state-run lottery. But in a matter of seconds, his agenda changed entirely and a Greene county woman owes her life to that.
The charred remains of this wheelchair stand as a testament to the heroism of Arkansas Lt. Governor Bill Halter and Arkansas State trooper Ramey Lovan.
"The thing we were both thinking was we've got to get this woman off the porch and we've got to get clear of this house," said Lt. Gov. Halter. "The flames came out so strong that Corporal Lovan's arm was singed. I caught some across the face. If we had stayed there any longer it would have been really tough."
The pair saw smoke rising from this house in Paragould about 10:30 a.m. They were driving by--on the way to a meeting with the town's mayor. Family members of Norma Dollins had tried unsuccessfully to get her off the porch in her wheelchair and fire was raging inside. That's when Halter says he and trooper Lovan sprang into action.
"It was all we could do to drag her away from the fire," said Halter. "Unfortunately, the wheelchair that she was in, we kicked it off the porch. But even when it was down in front of the porch, it was eventually consumed by fire."
"He had just gotten her off the porch when we pulled up," said Paragould Fire Chief Kevin Lang. "Thanks to them, she's in pretty good shape."
First on the scene of a fire was not a scheduled stop on the Lt. Governor's agenda today. But, Halter says he was just doing what anyone would do.
"The Lt. Governor did a great job," said Arkansas Trooper Ramey Lovan. "There wouldn't have been any way that I could have done this by myself."
" This is a big guy here and he was pulling hard," added Halter. "I guarantee it took both of us..and I think she's going to be ok."
Norma Dollins was taken to Arkansas Methodist Medical Center where she is listed in stable condition. The home where she and her daughter were living is a total loss and fire investigators are still trying to determine the cause of that blaze. A few of the family's pets were lost to the blaze, but no one else was seriously injured.