Tonight she did it publicly as she presented firefighters Bryan Hollowell and Carter Rowland their certificates of commendation for rescuing her son Zachary Tillery during a house fire on Franklin Street last month.
Chief Stacy Coggins handed the certificates to Sexton so she could present them to the firefighters during city council’s meeting. “It meant a lot to her to present them as it did to the firefighters,” Coggins said.
“Without you guys, Zachary would not be here,” Sexton told Hollowell, a lieutenant, and Rowland, an engineer.
After the presentation Sexton said her 24-year-old son remains under sedation. “He has lung issues.”
He still needs two to three more skin graft surgeries, she said. “The main concern is his lungs, but he’s still here fighting.”
His mother says doctors at the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center in Chapel Hill say his stay at the facility will be from six months to a year. “It’s a long road to recovery.”
The family plans to go see him this weekend.
She is appreciative of what the firefighters did the morning of October 12. “I’m very appreciative. I’ve thanked them before. My family has thanked them as well.”
The certificate Coggins and Sexton presented to the firefighters reads, “For an act of heroism and lifesaving on the 12th of October while serving as a firefighter for the city of Roanoke Rapids. On this date you responded to a report of a structure fire … During the primary search of the residence a fire victim was located and rescued from the structure.
“Without hesitation you and your coworkers … used your skills, training and determination. Working together as a team, you gave the victim a chance of survival … This commendation is bestowed upon you for an act performed in the line of duty, which through your professional dedication and prompt alert action resulted in saving a life.”
Battalion Chief Richard Cook said following the presentation, “They did what they were trained to do. I’m proud of them.”
Said Coggins afterward: “I’m just extremely grateful for the dedication and loyalty of the employees of the Roanoke Rapids Fire Department who make it such a great organization.”