When a Huntsville, Ala. television station broadcast a photo and story about a “mystery man” who helped a plane crash victim and then disappeared from the scene, several viewers recognized him as Conservation Enforcement Officer Joe Lindsey. Officer Lindsey exhibited grace under pressure when he helped move a boy away from the crash scene and kept him calm until paramedics arrived. He acquired the name “mystery man” from onlookers who say he appeared out of nowhere and then left the scene just as quietly.
Lindsey, however, knew the plane was in trouble because he saw it take off. He was at the Guntersville airport picking up his son when he saw a family of four board the small plane. It never cleared the trees at the end of the runway, so Lindsey knew it was going to crash. He immediately drove to the crash site to provide assistance. Although he was not on duty, his training as a first responder and enforcement officer paid off as he immediately saw the boy needed to be moved to safety away from the plane. When paramedics arrived he felt he was no longer needed and left the scene to continue his day. The boy he helped ended up being the only survivor of the crash.
This is not the first time Officer Lindsey has had the opportunity to save someone from harm while off duty. On Thanksgiving Day 2008, he was driving in Huntsville when he saw a van with smoke and flames coming out from under it. He immediately pulled over to assist and found a lady outside the van who indicated her daughter was inside. Because the daughter was mentally disabled and very frightened, she could not get out of the van on her own. Lindsey found a post from a nearby construction site and used it to break the glass in the van door. He was then able to pull the daughter out of the vehicle before it became completely engulfed in flames. When he saw paramedics arrive, he quietly left the scene.
Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Director Corky Pugh says Lindsey is representative of the caliber of people who work as Conservation Enforcement Officers. “Officer Lindsey sought no recognition in either of the rescues he was involved in, but he certainly deserves it. He is an asset to our Department and to the citizens of Alabama,” he said. Lindsey was recently recognized for the 2008 rescue by the Joint Legislative Committee to Award the Legislative Medal of Honor for Law Enforcement Officers.
“Our officers are involved in many aspects of public safety on the job. Whether it’s their regular duties in enforcing game and fish laws, or assisting with natural disasters such as the recent tornados, they are trained and equipped to assist the public. As you can see by Joe Lindsey’s example, they often provide this assistance when off duty also,” Pugh said.
Conservation Commissioner N. Gunter Guy Jr. also lauded Lindsey’s efforts. “Officer Lindsey sets a great example for us all, and that is to show compassion for your fellow man and to help those in need when you have the opportunity.”
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through five divisions: Marine Police, Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To learn more about ADCNR, visit www.outdooralabama.com .
Additional info: At the peak of the recent tornado-related disaster, 82 Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) employees were deployed in assistance to communities across Alabama. These WFF employees worked more than 7,000 hours total during the tornado recovery efforts.