Men awarded for saving quadriplegic from fire

Kent County

WALKER, Mich. (WOOD) — Two men were recognized Monday evening for saving the life of a quadriplegic man who needed to be rescued from his burning home.

The fire was reported at around 8 a.m. Jan. 2 in the 2200 block of Wilson Avenue NW near Remembrance Road.

Greg Colby uses a wheelchair and was just waking up when his caregiver realized the home was filling with smoke. The front porch was on fire, blocking the only ramp Colby could use to exit.

At around the same time, Brian Gilliken and Josh Marlink were passing by. The men immediately jumped in to help. They went inside the home and were able to get Colby out of the back door. The men were also able to save Colby’s dog.

“There would’ve been no way of getting out without them,” Colby said. “The house was starting to fill with smoke.”

On Monday, Walker firefighters recognized Gilliken and Marlink with lifesaving awards. Gilliken was there to receive his award; Marlink was not in attendance.

“I just can’t thank them enough for all they’ve done, to actually care enough to stop when they see a fire and put my life before their own,” Colby said.

“Things could have turned out a lot different. But those two individuals, in my estimation, are really true heroes,” Walker Fire Chief Bob Walker said. “They saved that gentleman’s life.”

Colby’s quadriplegia was a result of injuries he sustained in a swimming pool accident several years ago. Family members rescued him from the water after that incident.

This time his heroes were complete strangers.

“It was definitely right place at the right time for the right people,” Colby said.

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