Seffner sinkhole deputy gets national honor - WFLA News Channel 8

Seffner sinkhole deputy gets national honor

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Deputy Douglas Duvall received the Medal of Valor Deputy Douglas Duvall received the Medal of Valor
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SEFFNER, FL (WFLA) -

Sometimes, out of tragedy comes heroism.

For Deputy Douglas Duvall, that came on one of the darkest nights in recent Bay area history: the night a deadly sinkhole opened in Seffner.

"He, without care for himself or regard for his personal safety, rushed into the house on that evening and his concern was saving other people's lives," said Maj. Clyde Eisenberg, Duvall's boss at the Hillsborough Co. Sheriff's Office.

Wednesday, The National Sheriff's Association gave The Medal of Valor to Duval for "an act of outstanding personal bravery, intelligently performed, in the line of duty at imminent personal hazard of life."

It came on that night about a year ago when the sinkhole swallowed the floor of Jeff Bush's bedroom, killing him and trapping his body to this day. Jeff's brother, Jeremy, had jumped in to save him but couldn't.

As the floor kept collapsing, Duvall knelt down, reached his arm out below the floor that was still falling, and pulled Jeremy Bush to safety.

"As he was trying to stay on top of the dirt, everything was falling in ... and expanding out," Duvall remembers. "By the time I got him out of that hole, most of [the furniture] was underground."

Duvall remembers every sense he had that night. The room smelled like fresh dirt. The sound rumbled throughout the house.

"It sounded like it was alive. Grumbling," he said. "Almost like a growl sound."

Duvall's co-workers say the deputy seems "humble" about the situations he's been in, as well as the way he's responded, no matter the magnitude of them.

"He's a calm individual, " Eisenberg said.

After receiving the Medal of Valor, Duvall showed the humbleness his coworkers speak of.

"The way I look at it, I just happened to be the guy who showed up," he said. "Any other deputy out there, any police officer, firefighter, anybody, and this is my opinion and what I really believe ... they would've done the same exact thing and it would've been them getting this."

But, as it turns out, this was not Doug Duvall's first brush with death. Duvall served with a U.S. Army military police office in Kosovo and Iraq.

In Iraq in 2006, Duvall was gravely wounded when an improvised explosive device blew up under his Humvee. The explosion killed the 18 year-old Humvee driver. She spent her last moments alive, talking to Duvall and another soldier.

The U.S. Army awarded Duvall with a Purple Heart medal.

Copyright 2014 WFLA. All rights reserved.


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