CHIPLEY - A local teenager is being hailed a hero after his quick action saved a Washington County family.
Raymond Nelson, 17, was recognized at Thursday's meeting of the Washington County Board of County Commissioners by the board and by Washington County Sheriff Kevin Crews.
Nelson was hunting in the area of State Road 20 and Strickland Road at the Econfina Creek Management site on Jan. 31 when he noticed a Dodge SUV that had become stuck in the mud. The truck's occupants - driver Christine Page and seven others, including a six-month old baby - were in grave danger as the truck's submerged exhaust pipe caused the vehicle to fill with carbon monoxide.
One of the children, an 11-year-old, was unconscious when authorities arrived but was revived a short time later. All occupants were transported to the hospital with life-threatening carbon monoxide poisoning.
Nelson took quick action, calling 911 and helping Page remove the passengers.
Sheriff Crews said Nelson undoubtedly saved several lives that day.
“I believe this situation could have had a tragic outcome had it not been for Raymond Nelson," he said. "Had be not been there to help get these babies out of the vehicle, the outcome surely would have been different; we believe he saved the lives of those babies.”
In other commission business, an agenda item concerning the proposed closing of the Sunny Hills Library was tabled until the March meeting to allow the board more time to explore options that would keep the branch open.
County Engineer Cliff Knauer also brought recommendations of roads to be submitted for consideration by the Florida Department of Transportation for improvement funding through the Small County Road Assistance Program (SCRAP) and Small Community Outreach Program (SCOP) programs.
Commissioners approved submitting Cope Road and Bonnet Pond Road for resurfacing through the SCRAP program and Greenhead Road from Fox Pond Road to State Road 77 and River Road from the end of the pavement to Porter Pond Road for paving through SCOP).
The county will also submit Strickland Road for a Section 319 Grant, a program established by the Environmental Protection Agency to provide funding to reduce pollution from storm water runoff.
Other grant applications approved include Transportation Alternative Grant that would help fund a lighting project on the Falling Waters multi use path and a Hazard Mitigation Grant that would help fund improvements and additional facilities at Culpepper Landing. Commissioners also gave County Attorney Jeff Goodman the greenlight to apply for BP funds related to the 2010 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon. Inland counties, such as Washington, are eligible to receive fund from the company to compensate for significant losses in labor force, negative impacts on the tax base, lack of funds for infrastructure improvements and workforce training.
Commissioners approved the placing of a secondary repeater system at Roulhac Middle School and the addition of another at the EMS station in Vernon. The system, which will be facilitated by $7,000 from the Communications Committee's general fund, is expected to improve communications in district schools.
Finally, the board approved Clerk of Court Lora Bell's request to pay vouchers for the month of January in the amount of $1,683,664.43.
The Washington County Board of County Commissioners will meet again in workshop at 9 a.m. on March 22.