Best Hero - 1999
Vincent Michael Powell
It was a little after 4:00 a.m. this past July 3 when ten-year-old Vincent awakened to the smell of smoke in his Liberty City home. "I woke up because it got so hot," Vincent told the Herald last year. "The smoke detector was going off, and the hall was filled with smoke. At first I didn't even know what was going on -- I was so sleepy." Acting quickly he woke his 16-year-old brother and his 85-year-old great-grandmother. "We've had fire safety classes that no one thought was important, but I remembered what they taught us in school," said Vincent, a sixth-grader at Charles Drew Middle School. "I noticed smoke, stopped, rolled on the floor to my mom's room, woke everyone up and got them out." The cause of the fire was accidental; the family was without electricity and kept a candle burning for light. It tipped over during the night, igniting a blaze that ultimately destroyed the wood-frame house. Thanks to Vincent's actions, no one was hurt. "I'm very proud of him," his great-grandmother said. "He's my baby, my heart, and he saved our lives."