FLORENCE, Ky., Sept. 6, 2012 – Turfway Park will honor a hero during racing on Saturday when the track welcomes Boone County Sheriff's deputy Greg Tanner to the winner's circle.
On June 27, Tanner saved the life of Mike Mallory when he pulled the paralyzed man from a burning mobile home in Richwood Trailer Park in Walton, Ky. Mallory is the stepfather of Turfway Park mutuel clerk Lisa Warren. When he is not on duty with the sheriff's department, Tanner works for Turfway's security detail.
Tanner was on the early shift patrolling the area when the call came at 6:30 a.m. that the mobile home was on fire and Mallory, who was paralyzed 16 years ago from complications during brain surgery, was trapped in the bedroom. Tanner was about a mile away and responded immediately.
"When I pulled up I could see smoke coming from what I figured was the bedroom window," said Tanner. "I kicked open the front door and smoke came rolling out. I crawled through the living room and kitchen to where I guessed the bedroom was. The door was shut, and when I opened it the heat and smoke poured out. I could see flames on the bed."
The heat and smoke forced Tanner back into the hallway to catch his breath.
"When I went back in the second time, the bed erupted in flames," he said, "and I was forced back out again. The third time I went in, I heard a moan, and then I saw a blanket on the floor and a foot sticking out. He had managed to roll off the bed and was six or eight feet inside the door. By then the bedroom was fully engulfed, and I grabbed him by the ankle and dragged him out."
By the time Tanner had dragged Mallory to the back door, another deputy had arrived and carried the injured man outside. EMTs also were on the scene, arriving about five minutes after Tanner. Amazingly, Mallory sustained only a broken ankle and was released from the hospital the same day. His wife, Diana, had escaped earlier and was not injured. The mobile home was a total loss.
"It's hard to explain (how I felt)," said Tanner. "It kind of bothers me to be called a hero, because I was scared to death. I wanted to get out of that trailer but I couldn't leave him. I couldn't come out without him. His wife was in the yard, crying and screaming for me to save her husband. I wouldn't have been able to live with myself if I hadn't brought him out."
"If it weren't for Officer Tanner, my stepdad wouldn't have made it out alive," said Warren. "No ifs, ands, or buts about it. He's alive because Officer Tanner got there fast and went in to save him. If he'd waited for the fire department, my stepdad would not be alive. Those few minutes made the difference."
Turfway will dedicate Saturday’s fourth race to Deputy Tanner and honor him in the winner's circle after the race.
Tanner, 46, is originally from Erlanger. He worked in construction before making the move to law enforcement 15 years ago as a border patrol agent in Rio Grande City, Texas. He returned to Northern Kentucky 13 years ago to join the Boone County Sheriff's Department. Tanner lives in Burlington with his wife, Ann, and their daughter, 17-year-old Sydney, and son, 15-year-old Gregory Jr., who wants to follow his dad into law enforcement.