Red Cross honors heroes from southwest CT and the shoreline - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Red Cross honors heroes from southwest CT and the shoreline

GROTON, CT (WFSB) -

The Connecticut Red Cross recognized a number of heroes for putting others first before themselves at a ceremony in Groton on Friday morning. 

Last August, smoke poured out of this Norwich apartment with a man still trapped inside,

"He starts yelling, ‘my house is on fire, please get me out, God don't let me die in my house,'" said Norwich police Officer Sean Sullivan

That's when Sullivan ran up the front stairs and pulled him out. On Friday morning, Red Cross officials recognized Sullivan along with eight other heroes from southeast Connecticut and the shoreline. All these honorees represent the Red Cross ideal of service over self.

That's exactly what 15-year-old Avalon Machnicz of West Haven did back in February. Her family is alive today after she went through her smoke-filled home to wake everyone up.

"She took control, never in a panic, just did what she had to do to make it safe," said mother Cheri Machnicz

The same could be said for members of the Coast Guard Academy hockey team. They were on Interstate 95 heading back to campus after a game when their bus driver lost consciousness. Team members were able take control of the bus, pull over and call for help.

"The Coast Guard's motto is Semper Paratus, means Always Ready, and I think someone, somewhere was trying to test us that night," said 1st Class Cadet Benjamin Lesniak, of Coast Guard Academy.

They said they feel honored and humbled. While they're definitely heroes in many people's minds, even now, some don't consider themselves worthy of that title.

"For me it's just another day at work," Sullivan said. "Some of the other people here, they're heroes. They don't get paid to put their life in danger. They go above and beyond, those are the real heroes."

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