2012 Year in Review. April....Alan Hall. A true hero.
At first, I just saw the headline while working on my computer either Tuesday or Wednesday.
The headline, with a dateline of Florida, dramatically flashed the following statement.
“Heroic Man Dies After Saving Child From Powerful Riptide.”
My first thought was, what a great selfless act by some random guy who I didn’t even think for a moment I knew.
Turns out I was wrong, I did know him.
His name was Alan Hall and I worked with Mr. Hall at Frito-Lay in Naugatuck for the better part of 12 years.
Hall was walking on the beach at Honeymoon Island State Park in Dunedin on Easter Sunday with his wife Eileen, when they came upon three children playing in surf that was starting to churn up some strong riptide currents.
The three children, ages 10, 5 and 4, were in trouble. A strong rip current can take out the best of swimmers, at least 100 deaths per year are contributed to this violent churning of the water near the shore.
The mother and father got to the 10 and 4 year old while Hall got to the girl, named Ruby, but both of them got stuck in the strong current.
Hall had a hold of young Ruby and got her close enough to shore that she could swim to safety.
He however, could not get himself back out of the powerful waters.
Despite efforts from Eileen, a retired nurse, to resuscitate her husband of 42-years, Alan lost his life saving another.
On Easter Sunday afternoon, Alan Hall, acting on a gut instinct we should all hope we have if ever tested, did what came natural to him, he saved a little girl who’s family will still get the chance to watch her grow up.
It wasn’t until Thursday afternoon that a colleague at Frito Lay asked me if I had heard what had happened to Alan Hall.
Once he mentioned saving a little girl in Florida, it clicked.
That was the story I had seen but never read.
Hall gave 30-plus years of his life to the chip business and was someone I would see maybe two or three times a week when we would come back to the warehouse after a day on the road.
A hard working, quiet, but funny guy, Hall was part of a generation that helped Frito grow at a remarkable rate over his three decades of service.
He was 65-years old and from Cheshire where he loved to play golf and softball, something he had been doing more of since he recently moved to Florida in 2011.
We had a meeting that afternoon but my mind was numb. You hear of selfless acts of heroism from time to time but it usually doesn’t hit home this close.
I had mixed feelings of extreme sadness for the family and a remarkable sense of pride that I had worked with a guy that was capable of doing what he did.
We will put together a fitting tribute to Mr. Hall over the next month or two within his Frito-Lay family and work with the family to find appropriate ways to honor this truest of true hero’s in a way that will keep his memory alive forever.
Here’s raising a glass to you, Alan Hall.