Local hero Leon Odom and his girlfriend, Shannon, stand before the county commission as Mayor Mike Taylor regales attendees with details of Odom’s heroic rescue of two four-year-old girls and their mother. Photo by Meg Dickens.
By Meg Dickens
Johnson County residents and beyond were touched by the heroics of local Northeast Correctional Officer Leon Odom after he rescued two small children and their mother from a burning vehicle on Friday, May 12. After a brief conversation with County Commissioner Megan McEwen, Odom agreed to attend the most recent commission meeting where officials thanked him for his deed. County Mayor Mike Taylor said the story hit close to home before describing the incident in more detail.
Odom was in the right place at the right time when the vehicle hit two trees and caught fire. The young mother was unconscious and suffering from a broken pelvis, and her four-year-old twin daughters were trapped in their car seats in the backseat. Odom and an unnamed male passerby worked together to cut the children from their seats, as they started melting from the heat.
The two men pulled the children from the vehicle and passed them off to Odom’s girlfriend, Shannon, then went back for the mother. They managed to pull all three victims from the burning vehicle and out of harm’s way. A witness that came by right after the action reports Odom was very calm and in control of the situation.
In a previous interview, Odom stated that anyone else “would have done the same” but many who heard his story disagreed, saying very few would risk their lives. Many called him an angel or godsend.
“We live in a world where we hear of incidents all the time where people drive by people who are in need,” Taylor explained. “A world where people leave other people dying on the sidewalk. If it wasn’t for people like you, who are willing to get involved and risk your life, we’d have been seeing a funeral. We thank you for your commitment to helping people.”
According to the Tennessee Department of Corrections, Odom and all three victims sustained severe burns and are expected to make full recoveries. Odom urges the public to pray for the family.