Department of Highways, District 10
Lee County Transportation Cabinet employees honored for heroism for rescuing motorist from floodwaters in April

Press Release Date:  Tuesday, June 14, 2005  
Contact Information:  H.B. Elkins, PIO
District 10

JACKSON, KY – (June 14, 2005) -- The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet today honored two employees of the Department of Highways Lee County maintenance crew for their heroic efforts to rescue a motorist trapped by floodwaters on April 30.

On behalf of Gov. Ernie Fletcher and acting Transportation Secretary Bill Nighbert, Highway Commissioner Marc D. Williams presented Kentucky Colonel commissions to Drexel Creech and Aaron Gay in a brief ceremony at the Lee County maintenance garage.

"We continue to be proud of the actions of these two fine employees in rescuing a stranded motorist," Williams said. "These two men embody the philosophy of the Transportation Cabinet to provide a safe and efficient transportation system for the benefit of all Kentuckians. These Kentucky Colonel citations are just one small way to honor them for their bravery."

In the predawn hours on Saturday morning, April 30, Creech and Gay rescued an Owsley County resident who had driven into floodwaters on KY 52 at Sandfield in western Lee County. The driver was on his way to a Richmond hospital for kidney dialysis treatment. The motorist’s vehicle stalled, and he eventually climbed to the top of his car to escape the flood. Creech and Gay were in the area responding to the flooding situation when they discovered the stranded driver. Creech drove a dump truck into the flooded area, and Gay helped the motorist from the roof of the car to the truck. The motorist was eventually transported to the hospital by ambulance.

Creech is a superintendent I with the Lee County maintenance crew, and Gay is an equipment operator II.

"Part of our goal to provide a safe and reliable transportation system is the dedication of our state employees to their fellow Kentuckians," Secretary Nighbert said. "The bravery of these two employees to put themselves at risk to rescue a stranded motorist from a flood is very much appreciated and we at the Transportation Cabinet salute them and applaud their unselfish act. I am proud of Mr. Creech and Mr. Gay and congratulate them."

Linda Wagner-Justice, chief district engineer for District 10, which includes Lee County, also praised the actions of the two men.

"Our employees routinely put themselves at risk, because highway maintenance is by its very nature dangerous work," Wagner-Justice said. "The actions of Drexel Creech and Aaron Gay were above and beyond the call of duty. They acted at significant risk to themselves to rescue a fellow citizen. We are very proud of them, and grateful to them for their actions. They quite likely saved a life by their efforts, without thought to the risks they were taking."

The Kentucky Colonel commission is the highest honor awarded by the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Commissions are presented by the governor or the secretary of state in recognition of noteworthy accomplishments and outstanding service to a community, state or the nation. This tradition began in 1813 during the second term of Gov. Isaac Shelby. In 1928, an effort began to organize the Colonels into "A great non-political brotherhood for the advancement of Kentucky and Kentuckians." In 1932, The Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels was formally born. Today, the organization is incorporated as a charitable organization with by-laws directing it to be non-partisan, non-profit and dedicated to good works within the Commonwealth of Kentucky.