By KRIS REILLY, Editor
LUCERNE VALLEY • “Heroic” is a word sports writers tend to misuse when describing athletes. But Mike Alarcon, Camden Beavers, Kenny Kaiser, Lonye Logan and Robert Rodriguez have earned the right to be called heroes.
In the wee hours of the morning on Jan. 12, the five Lucerne Valley High School student-athletes risked their lives to help a total stranger, and three of them ended up in the hospital for it.
They’d been hanging out on a Friday night at a house in Lucerne Valley, celebrating Logan’s 17th birthday. Beavers was driving the group home shortly after 1 a.m. Saturday. They saw flames and a thick plume of smoke rising near the corner of Mesa and Carnelian Roads.
“Me and Lonye, we saw it,” Beavers said. “I was like, ‘Should we stop?’ And he was like, ‘Yes we should.’ ”
They saw a man outside using a garden hose to douse the flames which had engulfed a detached garage behind his home. The man asked the boys to get his wife out of the main house, which was threatened by the fire and was beginning to fill with smoke.
They got the woman and her dogs out of the house; then they saw propane tanks on the property and moved them away from the fire to prevent an explosion.
The man went into the main house and was refusing to leave despite the smoke filling the home, according to a San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department report. An off-duty California Highway Patrol officer happened to stop by and helped the boys remove the resident from the house for his own safety.
San Bernardino County firefighters soon arrived and stopped the blaze from spreading to the main house.
Meanwhile, Beavers, Alarcon and Kaiser began to have trouble breathing.
Beavers’ smoke inhalation was so severe that he was airlifted to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center. Alarcon and Kaiser were transported by ground ambulance, and all three were released the following night.
Beavers said he’s feeling better, and the other four were all back on the basketball court soon after the incident.
Beavers, a sophomore, said he played football for part of the season last year and may go out for the baseball team this year. Alarcon, a senior forward for the Mustangs, has made a commitment to join the U.S. Marine Corps after school. Logan, a junior, is a standout in football, basketball and baseball. Rodriguez is a senior forward who also played football and excels on the baseball diamond. Kaiser is a junior guard on the court and also plays football.
Their basketball coach, Matthew Stratton, lives right across the street from the location of the fire. He said he was awoken by commotion and the voices of his players and thought he was having “a bad dream.”
“When I heard that my players were out at 1:30 in the morning, that's a little concerning, but it worked out for the best,” Stratton said. “I told them they should be in bed at that time, but thank God they weren't.”
The cause of the fire was under investigation, according to a county fire release.
Asked if he would do it all over again, Beavers didn’t hesitate:
“Yes I would,” he said. “I was just talking to my friends about that; if that ever happened again would we do it again? We said yeah, we would.”
San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Deputy Justin McLean was one of the responders at the scene. McLean wrote in his report: “These young men should be commended for their selfless action. When most teenagers would have just left or watched the fire, these students did the right thing by helping.”