Who's a Hero? 

Claim casts doubt on teenage rescuer's story

So who was the hero? A cryptic e-mail sent to reporters last week accused Brooke Garcia of trying to steal the credit for someone else's act of heroism.

A fight over the title of hero is rare, according to Idaho State Police spokesman Rick Ohnsman.

He also believes that not a word of the protest is true. He'd reviewed the e-mail's claims, that someone other than Garcia had saved a 3-year-old boy from a flaming car.

The state police investigated the crash, Ohnsman said, and found no reason to doubt previous accounts of the story. By now, it's an old one: An SUV swerved on Interstate 84. The driver overcorrected. The vehicle flipped into the median, tumbled across the freeway and burst into flames. Then, the hero part: Seventeen-year-old Brooke Garcia pulled over and dialed 911. She sprinted to the car and saw a boy in the back seat, trapped.

She seized the door handle, it wouldn't budge. Smoke filled the back seat. In interviews, Garcia recalled breaking the remaining glass out of a broken window. She remembers lunging into the vehicle, her waist pressed against the window frame. And she remembers the boy, clinging to her arms, holding on as tightly as a barnacle to a ship.

Garcia was hailed as a hero in news story after news story about the crash. Idaho Rep. Bill Sali, a Republican, recognized her bravery on the floor of Congress.

But Sheila Williams didn't buy it. She wrote to several media outlets, trying to cast doubt on Garcia's heroism.

"My sister, Marie McCurry, was the one who rescued the boy," Williams wrote. "She could give you the actual truth over this story. She was really upset that this 17-year-old girl received all the glory when she actually lied over the incident."

But Ohnsman and his agency are sticking with Garcia. A lot of people, including McCurry, stopped to help, but Ohnsman said it was Garcia who pulled the boy from the car, according to the ISP's investigation.

And McCurry wants nothing to do with her sister's claims. "Forget about it," she said. "She just flew off the handle." McCurry said she didn't want to talk about the crash or Williams' e-mail.

As for Garcia, she says it's strange to be called a hero by so many people, let alone to have someone try to discredit her.

"My instincts just kicked in," she told BW. "I'm here. I'm the only one who can do it. I just did it."

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