PIQUA — It was a feel good evening at the Piqua City Commission meeting Tuesday evening as Mayor Kazy Hinds issued proclamations honoring the sacrifices of a native Marine and local first responders who responded with helping hands during times of tragedy and devastation.
Hinds designated Tuesday, Nov. 21, of this year as Cpl. Austin Cox Day for Cox’s actions during the mass shooting on Oct. 1 in Las Vegas, where he helped save the life of Katrina Hannah.
“Piqua High School graduate Cpl. Austin Cox was in attendance at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival along with thousands of country music goers in what was supposed to be a fun and entertaining concert,” Hinds said. After gunfire broke out, Hinds described how Cox “did just what Marines do, he ran towards the gunfire in hopes of helping people.”
Hinds went on to say, “as Corporal Cox began running, he noticed Katrina Hannah lying on the ground in critical condition from gunshot wounds … while trying to protect Katrina, as she was bleeding badly, he knew she needed medical assistance immediately, so he picked her up and ran to find cover.”
Cox was able to find transportation in order to get Hannah to a hospital for medical attention.
“Corporal Cox stayed by Katrina’s side throughout the night at the hospital, keeping vigil with Katrina’s mother until he knew she would survive,” Hinds said.
Hinds later added, “He will always be our hometown hero in the city of Piqua.”
Cox was unable to attend the commission meeting Tuesday evening, but many of his family members were in attendance. During the meeting, his aunt, Angie Smith, briefly spoke on Cox’s behalf, saying, “He says thank you to the whole city of Piqua for this recognition. No matter where he is in the world, Piqua will always be his home. Although he doesn’t feel like a hero, he was just doing what he had hoped anyone would do in this tragic time.”
Afterward, his father, Andy Cox, shared how he was “as proud of him (Austin) in every way possible.”
“I’m really so happy,” Andy Cox said, adding that his son always had a strong will and “always thought of others before himself.”
First responders thanked for hurricane relief actions
Hinds also issued a proclamation of gratitude honoring the city’s first responders, particularly Capt. Kevin Ganger of the Piqua Fire Department and linemen Kevin Grinstead, Justin Foutz, Dan Cline, and Don Nash of the Piqua Power System, who responded to Texas and Florida after hurricanes Harvey and Irma this year.
“Service to others is a hallmark of American character,” Hinds said, later adding, “These public servants voluntarily leave their positions in Piqua, as well as their families, to serve other communities that have been hit hard by disasters … it is the City of Piqua’s employees/first responders who are deserving of special recognition and appreciation for all they do for other communities hit hard by these disasters.”
Hinds went on to say, ”It is important to fully recognize the scale and scope of these particular disasters because it truly demonstrates the skill, expertise, and professionalism that is required from our employees as they enter communities hit hard with floods, power outages, as well as a multitude of other needs including the saving of lives.”
Ashcraft spoke on behalf of Ganger, who responded to the relief effort in Texas during the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey as part of Ohio Task Force 1.
“It is hard to describe the hardships that are faced when you go into a community that is literally devastated by hurricane activity,” Assistant Chief Vince Ashcraft of the Piqua Fire Department said. “The loss of just things that we just take for granted: a dry place to sleep, a warm place to sleep.”
Bob Bowman, assistant director of the Piqua Power System, spoke on behalf of the four linemen from the Piqua Power System, describing how Grinstead, Foutz, Cline, and Nash all volunteered to respond to cities in Florida asking for aid because of Hurrican Irma in September.
“These four gentlemen jumped at the chance to go down to help someone,” Bowman said.
Bowman described how they left before the hurricane hit and were in Florida for approximately three weeks, working 16-hour days every day.
“It was 20 days they were gone from their families,” Bowman said. “It was a tremendous sacrifice. You’ve got very talented linemen when it comes that way.”
Bowman said that the city of Homestead, Florida was releasing volunteer linemen from other cities after two weeks of efforts, but they requested for these Piqua linemen to stay a week longer to continue to help because of their work ethic and abilities as linemen. Bowman added that made him “extremely proud” of his linemen.
“I’m very proud of what they’ve done and the sacrifice they made,” Bowman said.
Reach Sam Wildow at firstname.lastname@example.org or (937) 451-3336