Hero who rescued woman from upturned car in the sea honoured
A man who dived into the sea to pull a close friend from an overturned car yesterday won the Hero of the Year award from a charity dedicated to children.
Larry Simmons Jr, 24, said he was “over the moon” when the Kiwanis Club of St George gave him the award.
He added: “I never really thought an opportunity like this would come, so I’m just really thankful and I feel blessed to get this kind of recognition.”
Mr Simmons, from Sandys, won the award for rescuing friend Jessica Atcheson after her car landed upside down in the water near the parish’s West End Sailboat Club.
Mr Simmons said that he had always tried to help others – but had never saved someone’s life before.
He added that, although he was proud of himself, “anyone could have done what I did”.
Mr Simmons said: “I think anyone – man, woman, tall, small – could go out there and give someone a helping hand.
“Bermuda’s so small that everyone’s your friend, so go ahead and show love and you’ll get that same love back.”
Mr Simmons was speaking as he was presented with the award at a ceremony in the St George Town Hall.
He was joined by friends and family, including Ms Atcheson, 29.
Mr Simmons went looking for her around 10pm on December 22 last year when her boyfriend called and said that she had not come home.
He found the accident scene and jumped into pull Ms Atcheson from the wreckage.
He was assisted by soldiers from the Royal Bermuda Regiment Coastguard, police officers and other emergency services.
Ms Atcheson, from Paget, said Mr Simmons was “the living embodiment of a real-life superhero”.
She added: “These kinds of people don’t come with capes, they’re just good people who take that risk, they don’t think about themselves and they do what needs to be done in the heat of the moment.
“My daughter just turned nine years old and I was here to see it, so I owe a lot to Larry.”
Ms Atcheson suffered fractured ribs and a leg injury in the crash, but said that she had made a full recovery.
She added she remembered little of the crash.
Ms Atcheson said: "All I remember was waking up in pitch darkness soaking wet and I couldn’t breathe.
“I was trapped and I realised I was in water but I didn’t know I was upside down so I didn’t know how to escape.
“I was pinned and I couldn’t get enough air, so I lost consciousness and he saved me just in time.”
Ms Atcheson added: “Larry’s always been such a good person and he showed the whole island that night what we already knew.
“I think he should be celebrated for this and that doors should open for him – he’s good from the inside out and deserves all the good that the world has to offer.”
Kiwanis is an international organisation dedicated to helping children and supporting communities.
The St George branch has offered a heroism award for five years to people who “risk life or limb” to help others.
George Dowling, the Mayor of St George, presented Mr Simmons with the award.
Mr Dowling said: “We never know when we may be thrust into a position such as Mr Simmons’ and I only hope that we all have the courage to act like him and put aside our fears and rise to the occasion to assist someone in need.”
Leleath Bailey, the Lieutenant Governor of Kiwanis Club Bermuda, said that she knew Mr Simmons and that he came from “a good family”.
She added: “We talk about our young black males in the community – what a fine example Larry has become for them.”