Darrell Reeves proves he is a true hero

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 17, 2003

The hero often is a humble man. That is true of Darrell Reeves, the Mississippi Department of Transportation maintenance worker who was one of the first on the scene about a week ago when a Natchez woman lost her life in a tragic accident.

Reeves and a few others were building curbs along a portion of Martin Luther King Jr. Road early in the morning on Feb. 19 when they heard screams.

&8220;A lady came by hollering, saying someone needed help,&8221; Reeves said, recalling details of that day and the part he played in trying to save a life.

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&8220;We jumped in the truck and headed that way,&8221; said Reeves, who has worked with the transportation department in Adams County for five years. &8220;I thought maybe it was a house on fire.&8221;

A retired firefighter, Reeves was confident that where there was trouble, he could give some assistance. With 20 years of experience with the Natchez Fire Department, he had seen every kind of emergency.

The group of MDOT workers came to the site of emergency, where a car was sinking into the middle of a pond. Reeves jumped from the truck to hit the icy water without thinking of his own safety. That simply is what an emergency-trained person does, he said.

&8220;Two people already were on top of the car. The car was submerged,&8221; he said. &8220;They had tried to get her out. We got them out of the water, which was so cold it took away your breath.&8221;

No matter the cold; Reeves went back and forth to the car and to the shore as one of the first responders on the scene. Someone brought lifejackets. A sheriff’s deputy arrived.

The small band of rescuers decided to try a rope. Reeves went to the bank for the rope, returned to the car and then back to the bank.

&8220;I’m 62 years old, and after quite a few times back and forth someone told me not to go back out there,&8221; he said. Was he tiring? &8220;No way. When someone calls for help, I want to do what I can.&8221;

A utility company came with equipment to help pull the car from the pond. A wrecker came.

The rescue efforts resulted in getting the car from the pond but not in time to save the life of Classie B. Banks, who died at age 63, only a year older than the superhero who did his darnedest to try to save her.

A number of people played crucial roles in efforts to save her life. Reeves did not go looking for praise or attention. Someone who knew the part he played tipped off The Natchez Democrat.

Reeves is reluctant to take credit for a heroic deed. He did what came naturally, he said. &8220;It doesn’t get out of your blood. I think it’s just a different breed of person who will do that kind of thing.&8221;

As a fireman, he was among a group of three who won a Carnegie Award for heroics in another dramatic life-saving effort in the 1970s. That effort had better results, as the life in danger was saved.

His heart goes out to the family of the victim. Reeves has a family of his own, a wife, two grown daughters and two small grandchildren.

&8220;They really get on me when I do something like this,&8221; Reeves said. Does that temper his inclination to go when called, to help when needed? Indeed not.

&8220;When someone is in a bind, I’m going to try to help,&8221; he said. He doesn’t consider himself any kind of hero, but don’t you bet his grandchildren, ages 7 and 4, know that he is?

Joan Gandy

is community editor of The Democrat. She can be reached at 445-3549 or by e-mail at