Thursday , February 18, 2010
A quick-thinking glass worker who happened to be driving by when a pilot with a grudge smashed his plane into a Texas building is being hailed as a hero after helping many people escape the inferno that followed the crash.
Robin Dehaven, a glazer at Binswanger Glass, was on his way to a job site when he saw the small plane approaching the seven-story building that houses the Internal Revenue Service offices in Austin.
"I first assumed it was a toy plane someone was messing around with, because it was flying really low and kind of going back and forth, turning left and right," Dehaven told Fox News.
He soon realized the "toy" was actually a small passenger plane; moments later, he saw black smoke billowing from the building.
"I immediately drove my truck over there, got the ladder off, went up to the side of the building and I saw people up on the second floor with their heads out the window for air because the room was filled with smoke," Dehaven said.
SLIDESHOW: Small Plane Crashes Into Austin Office Building
Dehaven extended his ladder up to the stranded workers and tried to instruct them on how to secure it, but they were unable to. So, rather than have them climb down an unsecure ladder, he climbed up.
"I climbed inside the broken-out window into the building with them," said Dehaven, who has a 3-year-old son.
"My ladder slipped a little bit actually," he added.
With the help of one of the men inside, he then broke another window near a ledge, and secured the ladder there so he could get five people out safely.
"I held onto their waists and their backs so they wouldn't fall if they slipped," he said.
Dehaven said the woman and four men he rescued all appeared to have been uninjured, with the exception of one man who cut his hand trying to break the window.
Police said that rescuers did an admirable job, and only two people had to be transported to the hospital. One person was unaccounted for, and there was one death: Joseph Andrew Stack, the pilot of the plane.
"It was surreal," Dehaven said.
But Dehaven's boss, Bubba Cepak, said he wasn't surprised to hear about the heroism exhibited by his employee of two and a half years.
"That's his deal, he just wants to help people out," Cepak told FoxNews.com.
Cepak said he thought the six and half years Dehaven spent as a combat engineer for the U.S. Army probably gave him many of the skills he used to execute the rescue. But he had no doubt where he found the courage to go forward with it.
"It comes from his character," he said.