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Deputies commended for quick action
May 08, 2014 Jerry Purvis   

Read more by Jerry Purvis
Two Scotts Bluff County Sheriff’s Deputies have been commended for their quick action in saving the life of an 18-year-old Grand Island area man at Big Lake Alice on April 5.

Monday’s meeting of the county commissioners was concluding with staff reports. Sheriff Mark Overman showed a brief video of what looked like an out-of-control campfire – but it was much worse.

Sergeant Mark Bliss and Deputy Scott Bibb were responding to a call from a woman who said she and her son were concerned about the safety of Mark Vakoc, a friend of her son. She told deputies that Vakoc has fallen on difficult times and was camping at Big Lake Alice.

The deputies went to the lake in the early morning hours of April 5 to look for Vakoc. They parked their vehicle and walked some distance when they spotted the camp site. At first they thought a campfire was burning, but realized it was out of control and heard cries for help.

Deputies found the tent burning and Vakoc was trapped inside because the heat had melted the tent’s zippers. They ripped open the tent and found Vakoc trapped in a burning sleeping bag. Bibb and Bliss quickly pulled him from the fire. The 18-year-old escaped with no injuries.

Vakoc said he didn’t know how the fire started, but had been using a cook stove several hours earlier. He said he hadn’t built a campfire.

“Our deputies got there at just the right time,” Overman said. “Another few minutes and he would have been dead. The deputies told me they were standing in fire when they pulled him out.”

County commissioners stood in applause as Overman presented Bibb and Bliss with commendations for the rescue.

“I’m very proud of their attention to duty,” Overman said.
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