Chattanooga Fire Department recognizes man for saving young girl's life

Fire Chief Phil Hyman presented a "Citizen Achievement Award" to Mr. Van Anderson Wednesday morning. (Image: Chattanooga Fire Department/Bruce Garner)

Three-year-old Hazel Baldschun is recovering after a horrific accident on Ochs Highway at the base of Lookout Mountain.

Her mother, Mallory, died in the crash this past February.

Now, the fire department is recognizing a man who stopped to help moments after the wreck.

"I was actually in my house and I heard the accident and [it was] just instinct to go see if I could help someone," said Van Anderson, citizen.

Anderson lives just a few feet away from where the 18-wheeler and cars collided.

"It was a pretty loud explosion," he said.

Without thinking twice, he went straight into rescue mode, focusing his efforts on the back of the truck where three-year-old Hazel was trapped.

"Luckily, I was where I could get her out and bring her back to the street," Anderson remembered.

After that, Anderson says he returned to the truck.

"I went back to see if I could help the lady," Anderson said fighting back tears.

But, it was too late to save another life. For the one he did save though, the Chattanooga Fire Department honored Mr. Anderson Wednesday.

"I just want to say thank you on behalf of the Chattanooga Fire Department to Mr. Van Anderson, and present him with this Citizen Achievement Award," said Phil Hyman, Chattanooga Fire Chief.

It's an honor not many people receive, but one CFD believes Anderson deserves for risking his own life to help save little Hazel.

The Chattanooga Fire Department says the citizen achievement award is a rare award. They've only given it out a handful of times.

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