Updated: 05-12-2004 09:25:16 AM




HEATHER FLANIGAN
Courtesy of KAIT

• Video: Firefighter Welcomed Home
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JONESBORO -- A Jonesboro firefighter who lost his leg in a two-vehicle accident is now home from the hospital. Firefighter Tim Rook was hurt when the fire truck he was driving collided with a tractor-trailer rig on April 24th. Monday, friends and family were waiting to greet him when he returned home.

It was only 17 days ago that Tim Rook worked to save a life from an accident, the life he saved...his own. Rook was trapped inside the fire truck and actually took control of a 'jaws of life' device to partially free himself from the vehicle. But, damage to Rook's left leg was so extensive, doctors were forced to amputate it.

"It was hard thing. I've worked many a bad wrecks. I never had to take care of someone as close as Tim is to me, but he held us all together, and it was just amazing. Like I've said, we've all got inspiration from him. So there's no doubt that this is going to slow him down at all, he's going to keep right on going," said Firefighter Jason Wills.

Rook has been a firefighter with the Jonesboro Fire Department for nearly nine years. And more than once, he's played the hero, saving people from danger.

The L. D. Hickey is given to Jonesboro firefighters who exhibit bravery in the line of duty. A plaque hangs in the fire station with names of recipients who've won the award. Rook's name isn't just on the plaque once, but three times. His co-workers say this is just one example of the many ways he's inspired them.

"He's an awesome guy. We all love him to death and this is our family, and he is family to each and every one of us, and we're all very close at the station we work at," said Wills.

"He's had a lot of support from us and family and had a lot of people from across the country, believe it or not, have sent him get well wishes and stuff like that," Chris Mackey, fellow firefighter.

And there were plenty of well wishers Monday afternoon when Rook's helicopter landed in Jonesboro, bringing him home from the hospital in Memphis.

"I've had support, no lie. And ya'll from my family and stuff, thank you so much. I mean it's awesome to know that you've got someone to take care of yours when you can't," said Rook to a crowd of people.

Tim's wife Glenda said, "We are so happy to have him back home. We know it's going to be a challenge, but we're up for it, each step of the way. God will help us do it. He helped us this far and he'll help us the rest of the way."

And while taking the first steps in his new life might be the hardest, Rook says it won't be as bad with those he loves behind him.

"It's awesome to be home. I mean, just to be where you're loved, and in the community you support and that overwhelmingly supports you. It's nice to have a place you can come home to like that. I'm ready to go," said Rook, fighting tears.

Family members say they don't know if Tim will be able to return to duty once he's fitted for a prosthetic leg. Fire Chief Butch Herring did say that if Tim was able to complete a Feets test for the department, he could be reinstated to full status, even with a prosthetic leg.

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