Three teens were enjoying a night out when they noticed something was terribly wrong. Thanks to quick thinking, the high school students quickly turned into hometown heroes. Here's their remarkable story.
To the Rescue
It's not every day that a group of high school teenagers become local heroes, that's for sure. But something changed one day when three friends decided to spring into action and do the unthinkable.
Without hesitation, they put themselves into an alarmingly dangerous and compromising situation. And they left spectators speechless after their bold actions saved the day. Hang on while we rehash their journey from ordinary teens to online celebrities.
Where It All Began
Our story takes place in Kokomo, Indiana, out in the Midwest. The three boys who became local celebrities of the Indian Heights subdivision grew up in the region and are now the town's official heroes. But this isn't the first time Kokomo's name was put on the map.
Kokomo, Indiana, is actually officially known as the "City of Firsts" after pioneering the United States automobile manufacturing business, among multiple other achievements. The beautiful city of Kokomo is a great place for families to live and is about an hour north of Indianapolis.
Meet the Boys
As mentioned above, our story revolves around three brave boys in Kokomo, Indiana. The teenagers, 17-year-old Max Campbell, and brothers Alex and Julian Lindley, 17 and 15 years old, respectively, all live in the region and attend the same school together.
Max, Alex, and Julian are students at Taylor High School in Indiana, a high school around 5.5 miles southeast of Kokomo. Alex and Julian Lindley are brothers, and Max is the same age as Alex, so the three of them often hang out together. Little did they know what awaited them during one of their latest hangouts.
A Day in the Life
But we're not there just yet. And, up until their heroic experience, the boys spent their days doing typical "teenage stuff." Whether they joined in on the latest pep rally or went to prom, like most Juniors and Seniors do, they made the most of their time in high school.
And, of course, they also contributed to the school's marching band. Well, at least Alex did - as seen in this photo uploaded by Vanessa Jene Lindley, Alex and Julian's mom. If only they knew the nerves shown above were about to be matched like never before...
As the story goes, one night this past summer, the friends were hanging out as usual. Only this time, things panned out very differently. Instead, the fun evening the teens had planned ended up taking a turn for the worst. And they've never been the same since.
"I let my teens ride with a friend to take someone home," Mrs. Lindley recalled of the fateful night. "It was after midnight, and it was taking a while for them to get back. I called my oldest, and he automatically hung up. He called right back and said something serious had happened. My heart dropped into my gut."
Something Was Wrong
What happened? At around midnight, Max and the Lindley boys were dropping off Julian's girlfriend after a night out when something caught their eye: as they pulled up to her home, they noticed a nearby house had smoke emerging from it. Something wasn't right.
They approached the neighboring house to get a closer look. And that's when the teens saw the overwhelming smoke forming from the property on Buckskin Drive. Somewhat familiar with the residents of the home, they decided they had to do something. So, they quickly hopped out of the car.
Alerting the Neighbors
The boys raced out of the vehicle and ran towards the house to warn those inside what was going on. "We got out of the car and knocked on the door, and they didn't answer," Alex recalled to the Kokomo Tribune. After several attempts, they realized nobody was coming to answer the door. What now?
As the boys continued to weigh their options, the trio decided to take an alternative route to try and reach anyone inside. They went around the backside of the house and began to bang on the neighbor's window until they finally got someone's attention.
"They Didn't Believe Us"
The boys continued with their attempts to alert the homeowners when they finally heard movement inside. But when the neighbors finally responded, they didn't seem too interested. As the boys recalled to news outlets later on, suddenly something unexpected happened.
"They didn't believe us at first," Alex revealed. "They thought we were pranking them. And we were like, 'Dude, your house is on fire.' The fire was spreading at alarming rates. "What were they supposed to do? Alex and his friends knew they had to act fast.
Panic Sets In
Once everyone realized what was really going on, the panic set in. The smoke grew greater and greater, and reality kicked in. The group of friends had to make a decision. Would they stay and save their neighbors in need? After all, they'd be putting their own lives at risk as well.
According to the Professional Firefighters of Kokomo Local 396 Facebook page, they reported that the teens "knew a classmate who lived in the home along with her special needs sibling." Would they truly be able to look the other way? The clock was ticking. They had to make a decision.
Calling for Help
After further assessing the situation, it was clear that their classmate's family desperately needed help. While they were ready and willing to help, there was only so much they could do. Right? They decided to call in backup. It was time to let professionals take the reigns.
The teenagers punched in 9-1-1 on their cell phones as they waited for help. Unfortunately, time was of the essence here. And as they watched their classmate's home continue to burn, they made another decision: they were going to do all they could in order to help save their classmate until backup arrived.
The Lindley brothers and Campbell took a deep breath as they leaped into action. They headed towards the fire, ready to help rescue their classmate and the other residents inside. And while they had no idea what awaited them, there was only one thing on their minds...
"There was no hesitation at all," Campbell recalled. "Not even in the slightest. It was just, 'There's a fire, now go get them out… It's just one of those things that there can't be any hesitation in a serious situation like that because when there's hesitation, that's when things go from bad to worse," he continued.
Arriving at the Scene
As the fire department pulled up, the house was in horrible shape. The Professional Firefighters of Kokomo Local 396 reported that when the crew arrived on the scene, there were "heavy fire conditions on the 'D' side exterior of the structure with extension of heavy fire into the attic over the attached garage."
When the Lindley boys' mother, Vanessa, recalled the events from the evening, she further elaborated on just how dangerous the situation was. "I pulled up and saw my teens and their friends standing in the yard, house in flames, and fire trucks everywhere," she recalled.
Thankfully, Julian, Alex, and Max had decided to do something rather than just stand there. Not only did they alert the residents, as well as first responders, but they had decided to do everything in their power to rescue the family of 6 and their 4 pets from the fire.
Luckily, the boys got to the scene in time: there were no injuries reported once the fire department and the American Red Cross were called! "The quick actions of these young men prevented this fire from a potential; devastating outcome," applauded the Professional Firefighters of Kokomo Local 396 Facebook page.
Their quick thinking likely saved this family's lives, and thankfully they were able to step in and do what they could to help them. "The firefighter said if they hadn't been there, it would have turned out entirely different," added Vanessa Lindley.
Knowing that things could have turned out very differently if the boys hadn't shown up left spectators in awe. These three teenagers were just out driving around, like any other night, but they left that night with a newfound title: hometown heroes.
The Ultimate Honor
The boys did what they needed to do in the moment, and in return, they were honored by the Kokomo police department for their actions. "As for the guys, they get to get hero's pins from the fire department and their picture taken for the newspaper," Vanessa Lindley revealed.
Traditionally, fire department pins are given as signs of recognition from the department to people who have done something honor-worthy in the community. This group of teens definitely did one of the most honorable things one can do: saving people's lives. That's no small feat.
Fire Chief Speaks Out
Following the life-changing event, the local fire department spoke out, honoring the boys and their bravery. The Komomo Fire Chief Chris Frazier praised the teens in a statement following the incident, noting how difficult house fires can be, "because of trees and things like that, you may not even notice it."
"So the fact that those boys were able to pick out that it was on fire, stop, initiate 911 and get us on our way and also try to go get those people out of the house - that says a lot about them," Fire Chief Chris Frazier continued. It definitely does say a lot about them and their character.
As for the boys? From their perspective, there was no question about if they were going to go in and help their classmate. "It's great that they (Campbell and the Lindleys) were aware enough to notice the house was on fire," the Fire Chief continued to applaud.
Whether it be thanks to fate or sharp senses, the attentive teens saved the day. But according to Max, there was a simple explanation for the events that panned out that night. "We just happened to do the right thing at the right time," he explained.
Breaking the Stigma
But there's also another reason the teens have continued to make headlines across the country. "People say we're [teenagers] just trying to cause trouble, and that's not true at all," Max explained to the Kokomo Tribune. "There are a lot of good people out there. They just get buried under all the bad these days."
"A lot of people say, 'Oh, they're just teenagers.' No one listens to teenagers. But that time (Thursday morning), they had to listen to us because otherwise, lives were going to be lost. A lot of people have thrown out the word hero at me. But I tell them I'm just being human," Max added.
"If my friend's in trouble, I'm going to go help out my friend," Max further explained to the Kokomo Tribune. Now that is the right attitude to have! And we're not the only ones who feel that way. The boys' parents were real proud of their kids that night and took to Facebook to share some thoughts.
"They're such good boys," Vanessa Lindley gushed on her Facebook post following the night of the incident. "They're young. They could have driven past it and not cared or driven past it and just called 911 and kept going. But they didn't. And I'm so very proud of them."
The Investigation Begins
The boys did everything they could to help make sure the family inside was going to be okay and that everyone could escape the house with no injuries. Luckily, they were in the right place at the right time and took quick action before the fire spread, and people did get hurt.
However, after the fire department arrived, there was one lingering question. What happened that caused the fire? There are no clear answers as to what precisely what down that night that caused the flames, and the case is currently under investigation. We guess only time will tell here...
Not the Only Ones
But the boys are actually not the only ones who've come to the rescue over the years! Just last year, other teenagers from Indiana were in a similar situation when an emergency broke out in their neighborhood. Luckily, their quick thinking, too, helped save the day.
According to responding firefighters, a child's mother had left the apartment while she was cooking. Sure enough, something must have burned, causing the smoke alarm to go off, creating an instant cloud of smoke. Thankfully the neighbors were home, and a sudden instinct to help kicked in.
Last April, when the incident happened, the teens were able to save the four children from the burning apartment unit successfully. When interviewed later by WTHR news, the local teenage heroes said they first saw the smoke and decided to check it out to be "on the safe side."
Thankfully they checked out the situation, and after seeing the intense amount of smoke engulfing the apartment, they knew they had to do something. Four children were in the apartment, and their "instincts kicked in." Miraculously, they helped the helpless kids escape.
Safe at Last
They coaxed the children out of the window and caught them as they jumped. However, there was a toddler that was stuck on the second floor. That's when the neighbor said his "fatherly instinct" kicked in, and the teenagers knew they had to do something else. They first went for the door but couldn't breathe due to the smoke.
Instead, the teens formed a human chain up the walls of the apartment to reach the second floor and successfully got the toddler out. With a boost from the bottom, the local neighbors-turned-heroes were able to get her out safely as the paramedics arrived.
These are just two of many examples of strangers coming together in times of need. Max, Alex, and Julian were just minding their own business when all of a sudden, they saw something unusual and decided to step in. And perhaps we could all learn a thing or two from them.
Seeing these two stories and how the teenagers risked everything to help those in need has been inspiring, to say the least. "It's obvious that even kids today, they are concerned about their neighbors and communities, and they'll step up and do what they need to when they have to," as Frazier perfectly put it.
In Case of Emergency...
While Max, Alex, and Julian might have done the "right thing at the right time," what about when fate doesn't run its course? What should one do in the event of an emergency? For those unaware, it's important to keep in mind some basic fire safety rules moving forward…
Most students experience fire drills in school, but the reality is that many folks don't consider fire safety in their day-to-day lives. At the end of the day, it's crucial to know the basics - for those in life-threatening situations and those who may be able to help from the sidelines...
What To Do
After learning about how easy house fires can form, it's beneficial to know what to do just in case of an emergency. The Red Cross put together some essential tips and tricks on what to do in the event of a fire - so let's take a look at some basic fire safety procedures.
First and foremost, if one can get out, get out and stay out and immediately call 9-1-1. The faster 911 is reached, the quicker the situation can be taken care of. In both these stories, 911 was called quickly, and luckily no one was injured before they arrived.
What Not To Do
Our next tip goes way back to elementary school. Stop, drop and roll. Since the beginning of time, we have had these three actions engraved in our minds regarding fire safety. According to the Red Cross, if one's clothes catch on fire, it is crucial to follow these steps.
The Red Cross recommends stopping whatever one is doing, dropping to the ground and covering up the face if possible, and rolling over back and forth until the flames go out. "Running will only make the fires burn faster," the official website states. It's important to cool the burned skin with water for a few minutes after.
Another helpful tip from the Red Cross in case of a fire emergency is to learn how to safely operate a fire extinguisher! Of course, not everyone will have access to a fire extinguisher in every situation - but if there is one, it's helpful to learn how to use it!
The Red Cross suggests the acronym "PASS" when operating a fire extinguisher. First, pull out the small pin from the extinguisher, then aim low at the base of the fire. Next, squeeze the lever slowly and evenly throughout the fire, and lastly, sweep the nozzle from one side to the next.
Stay Away From Handles
The Red Cross also suggests avoiding any door handles at all costs. If someone is caught indoors during a sudden fire, it is likely that door handles will be far too hot to touch! Try and use a second way out instead of the primary route if possible.
If the room has too much smoke, heat, or flames and the primary and secondary exit is trapped, place a wet towel under the door. The Red Cross suggests opening a window and signaling for help by waving a brightly colored cloth or flashlight to get someone's attention.
In many situations, a damp towel, flashlight, or brightly colored cloth is going to be handy - but it's helpful to have these tips prepared and ready to use. In any case, it is most important to take preventative measures at home just in case a fire breaks out.
Having smoke alarms and a home fire sprinkler system installed and working correctly is crucial! According to the Red Cross, smoke alarms "can cut nearly in half your risk of dying in a fire," but it is essential to check that the battery is working. Home fire sprinkler systems are designed to detect a fire and fight the flames.