‘Selfless, selfless service’: Akron man honored for saving neighbor from collapsed home

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NORTH CANTON. Ohio (WJW) – On Labor Day morning, Brian Osburn and his wife were starting their day when their Akron house was rocked by a tremendous explosion.

“I got up and ran to the back door and I saw this big cloud of smoke coming up in the air,” said Osburn. “I called to my wife, I said ‘Dial 911. That’s Paul’s house.”‘

Osburn says he knew Paul, an 81-year-old neighbor, was at home, so he hurried over to see if he was OK.

“I ran down to the house and he was nowhere in sight, and I kept yelling for him to see if he was OK because I knew that he was there. I kept yelling and finally he said, ‘I’m in here. I need help,'” said Osburn.

With flames still coming from the front of the house and from the basement, Osburn said he started throwing aside debris and making his way to his neighbor who was in the kitchen area of the home.

He threw his neighbor’s arm around his shoulders and helped him to safety in time for an ambulance to arrive. 

“I thought for sure he might have passed away or something, but it was a miracle,” Osburn told FOX 8 in September.

The report of Osburn’s heroism immediately caught the attention of executives with the company for which he has worked for 20 years.

The top executives for German-based Wacker Chemicals , which has a facility in North Canton, felt it was appropriate that they recognize their long-time employee for his selfless actions outside of the workplace.

On Wednesday, they surprised him with what Human Resources Director Mike Ayre called a “hero’s luncheon.”

Ayre gathered co-workers together on Wednesday for a special presentation. 

“We had many executives chime in and say, ‘Absolutely, we need to recognize the outstanding accomplishments, the good Samaritan activities for Brian,”‘ Ayre said. “Selfless, selfless service to his community, that’s what I thought of. It was just amazing. We have got to do something.”

Ayre presented Osburn a plaque that read, “Above and beyond. Presented to Brian Osburn. We at Wacker would like to acknowledge your good Samaritan action in rescuing your neighbor from a potential tragic ending. Wacker is proud to have you as a team member.”

“It’s great to see people that we work with and how they are local heroes in what they do,” said Wacker’s North Canton Production Manager Jake Miller. “I would want to work beside somebody that’s going to be in the neighborhood helping people or in their local church or helping however they could.”

Osburn, who was surprised by Wednesday’s presentation, says he does not consider himself a hero.

“I don’t believe myself as a hero. I believe myself as a good neighbor. He’s a great man. He did a lot of work for Habitat for Humanity, a wonderful guy,” said Osburn. “I would do it for any neighbor. Anybody. Hopefully it never happens again to anybody in the neighborhood, but I would do it for anybody.”

Osburn says his neighbor’s daughter visited him this past Saturday and said that her father is still recovering from injuries and burns he suffered during the explosion. Still, he is expected to make a full recovery.

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