As a child, Sheoki Reece said her house caught fire, so she understands the “devastation” a fire can cause.
But because of the actions of Reece and fellow Middletown police officer Austin Mooney, a fire earlier this year wasn’t deadly.
On Tuesday, Reece and Mooney were presented Heroism Awards by State Fire Marshal Jeff Hussey for quick, life-saving actions they made by entering a burning house Jan. 27 at 311 Harlan St. and rescuing a couple. Billie Thomas and her husband, John, were unable to escape the fire until they were pulled to safety by Reece and Mooney.
John Thomas was treated and released from Atrium Medical Center, while his wife was hospitalized for weeks due to severe burns on her left side and chest, said Middletown Fire Chief Paul Lolli.
By receiving this award, Reece and Mooney will be placed into consideration for additional recognition at the State Fire Marshal’s annual Hall of Fame ceremony in September.
Reece, a 10-year veteran and certified Field Training Officer, was riding with rookie officer Mooney when they heard over the scanner about a fire in the 300 block of Harlan Street with two people possibly trapped.
Upon arrival, Reece, 42, and Mooney, 26, saw heavy smoke rolling out the front door and discovered Billie Thomas on fire inside the home. Reece ran into the burning home, patted the flames out and dragged the woman out of the house, Lolli said.
Mooney found John Thomas in the home and led him out to safety, then assisted Reece , Lolli said.
Lolli said the officers’ “heroic actions” definitely saved the lives of the couple.
“We are very grateful of their actions,” Lolli said.
Police Chief Rodney Muterspaw, who attended the ceremony, told the crowd that Reece and Mooney do “a phenomenal job for us.”
Hussey said the two police officers, who were working their first shift together, “changed the future” of two families and the Middletown community.
This was at least the second time Reece has been credited with potentially saving someone’s life. On June 11, 2017, Reece, while off-duty, performed CPR on an 8-year-old boy who was under the water and couldn’t make it to the edge of the pool. She instructed others to call 911 and continued to give CPR until the boy was revived.