Heights officer praised for heroic action

By ZEINAB NAJM
Times-Herald Newspapers

HEIGHTS — A Dearborn Heights police officer is being hailed as a hero for his actions during an apartment fire where he saved a 7-year-old boy’s life.

Cpl. Scott Keller and Sgt. Tim Zawacki responded to the call for a kitchen fire July 29 in the 6800 block of Country Lane, and arrived before firefighters.

With no fire truck in sight and a mother worried about her 7-year-old son, Yusuff Salem, trapped inside, Keller went inside the building without hesitation.

The only protection Keller had was a T-shirt given to him by a resident standing nearby, to cover his mouth.

“Looking through the door you could see the black smoke building,” Keller said. “My natural instincts just took over and I entered the building to save the boy.”

With very limited visibility, Keller began crawling inside looking for Yusuff, using his flashlight which he said wasn’t useful because of the dark smoke.

“I was able to hear his voice, which helped me the most,” Keller said. “I kept crawling until I found him at the top of the staircase and carried him out.”

Both Keller and Yusuff were treated for smoke inhalation, but suffered no other injuries.

Police Chief Lee Gavin and Fire Chief David Brogan praised Keller’s actions.

“He has made the entire Police Department proud,” Gavin said. “As a father of six children, Keller did not think twice to risk his own life in order to save another.”

Brogan said Keller’s bravery and determination were the difference in saving Yusuff’s life.

“His actions are another reason why all of us at the Fire Department are proud to serve along side such a fine group of men and women who make up our police department,” Brogan said. “We are truly grateful for Officer Keller and all the other officers at DHPD who serve every day with the best interest of our residents in their hearts.”

Mayor Daniel Paletko said he was proud of Keller and all the police officers and firefighters the city has.

“We have a lot of heroes in the Fire Department and Police Department,” Paletko said. “These people put their lives on the line for all of us citizens day in and day out and it’s so good to recognize the actions that took place.”

Councilman Bob Constan also thanked Keller for his work on behalf of the entire city council during a meeting Aug. 9.

(Zeinab Najm can be reached at zeinabnajm92@gmail.com.)