PORTLAND – Mark Cole received Portland Fire & Rescue’s Medal of Honor Friday for pulling a woman out of a burning car on the Marquam Bridge last month.
Cole pulled 23-year-old Dana Buice from her Volkswagen after a 37-ton beam fell on her car.
Cole was steering the back of the truck that lost its load. He was the only one who thought there was a living person inside the car.
The award is the highest honor the department can award to a civilian.
“I looked over the beam and there’s a young woman sitting in there and she’s screaming and scared obviously,” Cole said. “I just happened to be at the right spot at the wrong time or the wrong spot at the right time. I don’t know it’s hard to decide.”
It wasn't hard to decide Cole was the right man for the award. Firefighters on the scene figure if he hadn't jumped in to pull her out, Buice wouldn't have lived many seconds more.
“I can’t say I know exactly why you do it. It’s not something you know. It’s something that’s in you,” he said.
He is now forever in the company of distinguished life-savers; although, only one person's opinion about all that seemed to matter to him Friday, his daughter’s.
“It’s a story she’ll always remember. A good part of Daddy at least, I’ll take it for sure,” he said.
KGW reporter Reggie Aqui contributed to this report.