Local Red Cross knows county man is true ‘hometown hero’

Jim Miller (left) was presented with the “Hometown Hero of the Year,” award by Mike Rohler, executive director of the Huntington Chapter of the American Red Cross on Saturday, March 6.
Jim Miller (left) was presented with the “Hometown Hero of the Year,” award by Mike Rohler, executive director of the Huntington Chapter of the American Red Cross on Saturday, March 6. Photo by Andre B. Laird.

Superman. Batman. Spiderman. Huntington resident Jim Miller. What do they all have in common? Heroism.

Although the first three are fictional characters, Jim Miller embodies the definition of ‘hero' by his actions last spring.

While headed home, Miller came upon a car accident on 600W, in Andrews, late last spring.

"It was a very bad wreck," states Miller. "The van landed on its roof and it was on fire."

Inside the vehicle were Samantha Shively, her 4- year-old and 2-month-old sons and another adult.
Shively's 4-year-old son was thrown from the vehicle upon impact, while she and the 2-month-old were trapped in the vehicle.

"I ran up to vehicle and asked the other person who was in there, if there was anybody else in the van," Miller says. "He must have been disoriented because he said he didn't know."

Miller says as he approached the burning vehicle, Shively told him that the younger child was trapped in his car seat. Miller says he went around to where the child was and reached inside and got the child out.

"The baby was fine, but the 4-year-old and mom had to be life-lined to Parkview North," Miller adds. "The child seemed to be the one who was in the most critical condition because he was thrown from the van when it crashed."

Miller says he stayed at the scene until Deputy Chris Newton, from the Huntington Sheriff's Department, arrived on scene.

When asked why he decided to approach the burning vehicle, Miller's answer was simple.

"I wasn't going to just stand there and let that baby burn," he says.

He adds that maybe his military training also kicked in.
Miller served in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War, from 1967 to 1971. He also served as a reserve deputy for approximately two years with the Huntington Sheriff's Department.

"I don't see myself as a hero," says Miller. "I was just there at the right time and it was the right thing to do."

On Saturday, March. 6, the Huntington County Chapter of the American Red Cross disagreed with Miller's opinion of his actions by naming him its Hometown Hero of the Year.

Miller was honored during the Red Cross's annual fundraising banquet, which was held at LaFontaine Golf Club.

"Jim's actions are the reason why a family didn't experience a horrible tragedy," stated Mike Roller, executive director of the Red Cross. "I know he doesn't think he did anything special, but to one family he did."

Samantha Shively also spoke at the banquet and she thanked Miller for giving her family a second chance.

"If it weren't for you, my child wouldn't be here today and last Christmas would have been a lot different for my family," Shively stated to Miller. "There are no real words out there to express how grateful I am for you and what you did to save my son's life."

All members of the Shively family who were in the crash are now fully recovered, as well as the other occupant of the vehicle.

Rohler also presented hometown hero awards to representatives from all six volunteer fire department, Andrews (Tom Wuensch), Bippus (Jerry Helvie), Markle (Rick Asher), Mt. Etna (Roger Buckner) Roanoke (Kasie Platt) and Warren (Tim Ford).

"We have had a long year with some tough fires and these men have volunteered their time and put their lives on the line time and time again to ensure that our communities are safe," Rohler stated.

The banquet also featured a live and silent auction as well as numerous items that were raffled off to attendees.