BELLEFONTAINE — Soutmaster Tom Irick has been awarded the Boy Scouts of America Honor Medal for heroism.
The Honor Medal may be awarded to a youth member or adult leader who has demonstrated unusual heroism and skill in saving or attempting to save life at considerable risk to self.
Irick and his wife, Tawnya, were traveling Oct. 7, 2018 when they came upon an automobile accident that had just occurred. A teenage male driving a compact car had crossed over the center line and collided head-on with a pickup truck pulling a horse trailer. Tom and Tawnya immediately left their vehicle and went to give aid to the victims, along with others bystanders. First approaching the car with the teenage male, another bystander told them that the young man was deceased. Tom checked the young man for a pulse or any response, and finding none, moved to the pickup truck while Tawnya stayed with the young man.
The female driver of the pickup truck was by the collapsed dash and steering column. Both of her legs were crushed and tangled with the foot pedals. The engine compartment of the tuck was on fire with smoke and flames coming up through the cab and over the windshield. Unable to open the drivers-side door of the truck due to damage, Tom used his picketknife to cut away the drivers seatbelt, but the others were unable to free the driver. Tom then climbed head-first over the now bent drivers-side door, and by wriggling down to the floor area, was able to reach and untangle the driver’s broken legs and ankles from the foot pedals while the other bystanders pulled her free through the passenger door. They then moved the woman a safe distance away.
Tom next moved back to the compact car where Tawnya was still checking and attempting to give comfort to the unconscious (or deceased) teenage male. After speaking with her, Tom then warned other onlookers to move away from the truck, which was now fully engulfed in flames. However, Tom returned to the fire, and with the help of another bystander, broke into the rear of the horse trailer, entered and untied two horses, backed them out of the trailer, and led them a safe distance away before putting them into the care of a nearby resident.
Tom returned to the compact car for a final time, and still finding the teenage male unresponsive with no pulse, and unable to remove him from the crushed vehicle, Tom and Tawnya moved away from the scene in order to clear the area for the first responders who were just arriving.
It was not until hours later that they learned that the teenage male was Devin Marchal, a Life Scout who as a member of Tom and Tawnya’s Troop 182 in Bellefontaine.
A National Court of Honor recognizing Tom for his heroic actions was convened on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020.