St. Landry firefighter cited for valor
A St. Landry Parish firefighter has been named the recipient of the Louisiana State Fireman’s Association’s first Medal of Valor. The award was created last year to recognize firefighters who have gone above and beyond the normal duty.
Connor Manuel, an 18-year-old volunteer with St. Landry Parish Fire District 6, was recognized for rescuing a woman from a burning vehicle on Interstate 10. Manuel was given a plaque at the April meeting of the Eunice board of aldermen and will also be honored during the LSFA 114th Annual Conference in New Orleans later this year.
Manuel was driving to work on March 18 when he noticed heavy smoke coming from a SUV stopped on the side of I-10 east near mile post 99, and saw that a woman was inside it. Alfrelisha Thibeaux had pulled off the highway because her vehicle was making a funny noise. She was not immediately aware that a fire had started somewhere underneath her car.
Manuel stopped to give aid and told Thibeaux to get out on the passenger side because of heavy traffic on the highway. When Thibeaux, who was 6 and half months pregnant at the time, had difficulty moving to the passenger side, Manuel opened the door and pulled her from the vehicle just before it burst into flames.
Manuel stayed with Thibeaux until help arrived, but left before she could learn his name and thank him. She turned to social media to share her story, asking the public to help her track down the young man who she says saved her life.
Dwayne Thevis, secretary, of the firefighters association, noted, “Every day we try to save people’s lives and we do the best that we can, but this was one of those situations that was just above and beyond.
“When you’ve got a guy … on his way to work [who] stops to help somebody that’s in a burning vehicle, that really goes above and beyond what you normally do,” Thevis said.
Manuel, who has been a volunteer firefighter for about a year, said it is just something he does. “I’m thankful I had the opportunity to help somebody out,” he said. “Just being in the volunteer fire department, I try to pull over for wrecks and accidents until responders get there."
State Rep. Phillip DeVillier read a commendation at the Eunice meeting, citing Manuel’s “tremendous heroism.”
"To (him) it was just a random stop, but it was actually a miracle," Thibeaux said at the time of the incident.
Three things to know about this story:
- The award was created last year to recognize firefighters who have gone above and beyond the normal duty.
- Connor Manuel, an 18-year-old volunteer with St. Landry Parish Fire District 6, was recognized for rescuing a woman from a burning vehicle.
- "To (him) it was just a random stop, but it was actually a miracle."
Eunice, LA 70535