At first, he seems surprised by the phone call from the Daily Times and is hesitant to talk to a reporter.
Then, suddenly, he says what’s on his mind.
“I’m not a hero,” insisted Eric C. Wallace, 42, who goes by the name of “Clint Wallace.”
Wallace is the Wheelersburg resident and former EMT whom the Ohio State Highway Patrol credits with saving the life of Heather Grizzle, 37.
On Aug. 2, around 8:10 p.m., Grizzle was attempting to pass a car in front of her when she almost collided head on with Wallace’s car, which had been heading in the opposite direction.
Grizzle instead veered off the road, smashed through some road signs and her vehicle ended upside down in a creek alongside Allegheny Hill Road near State Route 140, about three miles from U.S. Route 52, according to the OSHP.
Grizzle’s SUV carried five juvenile passengers ages three to eight, two of which are the driver’s children judging from the accident report.
“I saw she was in an accident, I saw she needed help,” Wallace continued. “I did what anybody would have done.”
While they were not responding to Wallace’s comment about doing what anybody would have done, judging from remarks they made to the Daily Times following the incident, two OSHP troopers who responded to the accident likely would disagree with that portion of Wallace’s remarks. Both indicated it would have been very easy for Wallace to put Grizzle and her SUV in his rear-view mirror and simply keep going.
“He turned around and went back,” said OSHP Sgt. Shane Salyers, who was the first law enforcement officer on the scene. “If it wasn’t for him things would have turned out a lot differently.”
According to Salyers, Grizzle was trapped in the car with her head pinned underneath her dashboard as well as about a foot of water.
Wallace said airbags in the SUV had deployed but Grizzle was unconscious and not breathing when he reached her. He said her head was pinned beneath her dashboard, but he was able to get it out of the way.
“I don’t know how I pulled it loose,” Wallace said regarding the dashboard. He added as soon as Grizzle was free of the car, he immediately started performing CPR on her.
“He basically brought her back to life,” said Trooper Byron Hayes.
Wallace said while he spent five years as an EMT for Life Ambulance Services in Portsmouth, he had never previously performed CPR on a victim.
Wallace wanted to make clear he was not alone in helping Grizzle and the children in the SUV escape the accident. He said several men pulled the youngsters from the car while he went after the driver. Wallace assumed the other rescuers were from nearby homes adding all of what he saw took place prior to the arrival of any safety personnel.
Both Hayes and Salyers said late last week the cause of the accident was still under investigation. Officials indicated Grizzle at a minimum would be charged with failure to control.
According to the OSHP, all five children in the car essentially escaped physically unharmed. Salyers said one child may have received a broken toe but there were no serious injuries other than to their mother. Hayes said Grizzle sustained a head injury and was taken to Southern Ohio Medical Center.
For his part, Wallace was adamant people need to start helping each other a lot more often.
“People nowadays grab a phone and film something rather than help. It’s kind of ridiculous,” Wallace concluded.