Firefighter who lost leg when hit by driver who violated Move Over Law: ‘Put down your phone’
ATLANTA — An Atlanta firefighter who lost his leg when he was hit by a car while working an accident on I-85 returned to his fire station on Saturday, Sept. 21 for a BBQ, but he got so much more than he was expecting.
Sgt. Darrow Harden had several surgeries after the crash.
“I’m moving slow, but I’m moving,” he said.
He returned to Fire Station Two to visit with his station brothers and sisters on Saturday.
“I love it,” he said. “It’s family. It’s family…so, it’s like being at home.”
Sgt. Harden was part of the crew trying to help a driver in an overturned vehicle on the side of I-85 near Cleveland Avenue back in May.
Another driver approaching the scene lost control of his Pontiac G-5, hitting the fire truck, and Sgt. Harden, who was rushed to Grady Hospital, where he was taken into surgery. He lost his left leg, but said he was lucky to be alive.
“If it hadn’t been for my crew, Engine 2, Truck 2, Engine 30, the Grady crew that showed up. They saved my life,” said Sgt. Harden. “I was able to get to the hospital in roughly 13 minutes. I should have died on the freeway, but they saved my life.”
A nonprofit dedicated to helping children and their families who have faced devastation and suffering as the result of a fire — the Ronnie Thames Foundation — attended the BBQ to surprise Sgt. Harden with a gift.
“I passed this bucket around, told everybody to put whatever you can in there, and we’re just so happy to give you and your family a check for $3,700,” said Ron Thames, co-founder of the foundation.
The money was collected in Sgt. Harden’s honor at the Silent Hero Awards earlier in September to help a local firefighter’s family.
“We call them silent heroes, because they rescue people, and they don’t get the recognition for it,” said J.C. Barb, with the Ronnie Thames Foundation.
Sgt. Harden said he doesn’t remember much from that May day, but he said he’ll never forget how his family, friends, and community stepped up since the crash.
“It’s been an amazing support group that I’ve had,” said Sgt. Harden.“I have kids in college. I have two sons. I have a daughter, so anything such as this, is amazing and appreciated.”
The driver who hit Harden, 35-year-old Nanhthaphone Nhotsombath, was charged with failure to maintain lane, too fast for conditions, and failure to obey the Move Over Law.
Sgt. Harden had one message for anyone driving distracted — asking that they please put down their phones, and:
“Please pay attention,” he said.
A GoFundMe account was also set up to support Sgt. Harden in his recovery.