Two everyday citizens will be honored at the Nebraska/Iowa Hy-Vee Heroes Game on Friday, including an Omaha man.
Brian Thurston of Omaha will be honored by the American Red Cross for his quick thinking in helping three people who were involved in a vehicle crash. He will be recognized as Nebraska’s 2018 “citizen hero” when the Cornhuskers take on the Hawkeyes at Kinnick Stadium. Thurston will be joined on the field by Justin Smith of Dubuque, Iowa, who will be recognized as Iowa’s 2018 “citizen hero.”
At 9:45 PM on March 19, 2018, Thurston and two of his co-workers heard a loud vehicle collision and immediately acted. A car had struck a minivan and the minivan ended upside down on its roof. Thurston was the first to the scene and found three people inside the minivan, unable to get out.
Using his pocketknife, he cut the seat belts and dragged the occupants out of the car. Thurston says two of them were unhurt, but the third had a broken leg. “I was afraid he would die if I didn’t stop the bleeding." Thurston removed his shirt and tied it around the person’s leg and tightened it until the bleeding stopped. Thurston’s quick actions stabilized the individual’s situation until paramedics arrived.
“This year’s Hy-Vee Heroes Game honorees exemplify what it means to be a hero,” said Jill Orton, Regional Executive of the Red Cross of Kansas, Nebraska and Southwest Iowa. “Their life-saving actions define why the American Red Cross, Hy-Vee, the University of Iowa and the University of Nebraska partner together each year to showcase extraordinary citizens in both states.”
Thurston and Smith and members of their families will be guests of the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Friday’s game and will participate in a variety of special pregame activities. During halftime of the game, university representatives along with Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds and Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts will make a special on-field presentation to the citizen heroes. Their names will also be inscribed on the Hy-Vee Heroes Game trophy.
Earlier this year, individuals could nominate residents of Iowa and Nebraska who performed extraordinary acts of heroism and service in their communities for the “citizen hero” award. Staff and volunteers from the American Red Cross selected the winners.