Bridgeport High School basketball coach honored for saving boy’s life

By Karen Larsen
Empire Press Correspondent

Douglas County Sheriff Harvey Gjesdal stands with Pat and Taralee McFadden after presenting a medal and award to Pat McFadden for saving the life of his 8-year-old stepson in a residential fire. (Empire Press photo/Karen Larsen)

Pat McFadden, a Bridgeport High School athletic coach and a local orchardist, was presented with an award and medal by Douglas County Sheriff Harvey Gjesdal March 26 for rescuing an eight-year-old boy from a house fire Jan. 5.

McFadden’s girlfriend, Taralee Martin, woke him at about 6 a.m. that morning when she heard a loud noise like a windstorm in the house.

When the couple realized there was a fire, McFadden ran immediately to the bedroom occupied by Martin’s son, Thomas, and carried him out of the house through the fire. Martin escaped through the bedroom window.

Just seconds after they exited, the family witnessed the house entirely engulfed in flames.

“There was no time to spare at all,” McFadden said.

McFadden, who is a retired Navy commander, credited his military training for giving him the ability to react so quickly and successfully. He said that because of frequent drills in the military, he often thinks about what could go wrong in a situation and how he would react to it.

McFadden sustained third-degree burns from his waist up in the fire and was hospitalized for 52 days. Thomas Martin sustained second-degree burns that kept him hospitalized for two weeks.

During the award ceremony, Gjesdal said that there was no doubt in his mind that McFadden had saved the boy’s life.

McFadden and Taralee Martin were married March 11.