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Plant City Courier

Firefighters honored for sinkhole rescue

Staff reports
Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 04:20 PM
PLANT CITY -

Two firefighters who risked their lives to save a woman who fell into a sinkhole have received their second honor in less than a year for bravery.

Fire Rescue Capt. Vincent Probst and Firefighter/Paramedic Jimmy Riley received accolades at the 18th annual Our Heroes Luncheon at the Tampa Convention Center. The guests included Gov. Rick Scott.

"We are very proud of them," said Plant City Fire Rescue Operations Chief Eugene Shuller, who attended the May 31 luncheon. "They did their jobs and bring recognition for what they did."

Law enforcement officers and firefighters from about a dozen agencies in Hillsborough County received awards at the luncheon.

Last year, Probst and Riley received Plant City's Firefighter of the Year award.

Probst and Riley played key roles in the dramatic rescue of Carla Davis-Chapman, who fell into a sinkhole in her backyard on March 28, 2011.

When firefighters arrived, Plant City Police Officer William Osmanski, the first on the scene, was holding onto the victim's arm, desperately trying to keep her from going deeper into the hole. He was obviously exhausted and the area around the hole was very unstable.

Davis-Chapman, who fell into the hole while picking herbs, was in obvious distress from the mud and the sand surrounding her, officials have said.

Probst and Riley relieved the exhausted officer and lifted her out of the hole.

A statement from the organizers of the Our Heroes Luncheon praised them for "placing the needs of others" above their own safety.


Special correspondent Leonora Lake contributed to this report. dnicholson@tampatrib.com (813) 394-5103

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