Man ablaze, Beaumont staff jumps into action
Dearborn — Beaumont Hospital, Dearborn nurse Ann Hunter knew she couldn’t let a man reeking of gasoline take the elevator to another floor.
“He had a lighter in his hand, a two-liter soda bottle of gasoline and a steak knife,” she said of the man who had entered from a parking garage about 10:30 a.m. March 8. “So I was watching him — his facial expressions, his hands — and trying to hold that elevator.”
As she stood over the elevator doors’ tracks to keep them from closing, Hunter engaged the man in conversation, she said.
“There were a lot of thoughts going through my head,” she said. “It seemed like it went on for a very long time.”
But the man backed into one of the elevator car’s corners and set himself on fire with a blow torch he had with him. Staff members quickly extinguished the flames, saving the man’s life and preventing others from being injured, police said.
On Thursday, Beaumont Hospital and Dearborn city officials honored Hunter and 15 co-workers for their actions in the incident.
“I’d like to express my thanks, my pride and gratitude to the employees and team members, really everyone in the area, who responded so quickly and did all the right things during what was a scary, ultimately tragic situation,” said Beaumont Hospital, Dearborn president Kelly Smith. “It could have been extremely worse had the team not jumped into action and did the things they ended up doing.”
Mayor Jack O’Reilly, police Chief Ron Haddad and fire Chief Joe Murray attended the event at the hospital’s Fitzgerald Pavilion.
“We just have to say we’re so proud they are here in our community, and that our community can rely on their great expertise,” said O’Reilly, who presented the staff with a citation from the city.
Haddad said he couldn’t be prouder of the hospital staff. He presented the director of security, Morris Cotton, with a Lifesaving Award. Murray gave Cotton a Heroic Act award from the Fire Department.
“Not only did they hold things together, they de-escalated the incident for when police and fire fighters were able to get here,” Haddad said. “We couldn’t have been in better shape. This could have been really catastrophic.”
The man, whose name was not released, was not a patient at the hospital when the incident happened. After the fire, he was taken to another hospital to be treated.
Haddad said the man is recovering. “That’s all I can say,” he said.
Police and hospital officials saidemployees and visitors contacted security when the man, reeking of gasoline, entered the hospital.
“Right away I noticed something wasn’t right,” said Lampros Koutelas, a nurse. “You don’t normally smell gasoline in a hospital.”
Hunter approached the man. “I told him ‘Please don’t do this. We can help you,’ ” she said.
Koutelas stood behind Hunter on the elevator as she talked to the man.
“I was just making sure to keep an eye on him and keeping an eye on Ann,” he said. “I was just trying to keep everyone safe as much as we could.”