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Kent County Levy Court awards Delaware Bay rescuers

Mike Hignutt and Timothy Burton Smith were recognized for life-saving act

Delaware News Desk
From left: Chief Colin Faulkner, Kent County Department of Public Safety, Kevin Sipple, assistant director of Emergency Communications Division, and South Bowers Beach Volunteer Fire Company Assistant Chief Michael Hignutt, President Joseph Yonker and Chief Robbie Johnson.

Kent County Levy Court commissioners formally thanked two local heroes July 28 after they saved the lives of two swimmers in the Delaware Bay.

Mike Hignutt, assistant chief of the South Bowers Fire Company, and his friend, Timothy Burton Smith, were fishing when they heard cries of distress from four people who had entered the water and got caught in the bay’s powerful current. They saved two lives, and the other two were defeated by the strong and forceful current off the shores of South Bowers.

Chief Colin Faulkner of the Department of Public Safety recommended Hignutt and Smith for the Kent County Life Saving Awards and Medals for their act of heroism without regard for their own safety to affect a dangerous rescue in a body of water known for its extremely powerful current. The recommendations were unanimously approved. While Smith couldn’t make the presentation, Hignutt accepted the awards for both, with support from his colleagues from the fire company, President Joseph Yonker and Chief Robbie Johnson. 

Mike Hignutt (right), assistant chief of the South Bowers Fire Company, with Commissioner Eric Buckson as the Levy Court commissioners awarded Kent County Life Saving Awards to Hignutt and friend Timothy Burton Smith

Commissioner Eric Buckson thanked the men. “I’m enjoying this if just for the moment ... What’s impressive to me is because you’re familiar with that water, you knew the danger of that water. It wasn’t just your flat- water, calm situation with folks that didn’t know how to swim,” Buckson said. “And to jump regardless, knowing the risks, says a lot about your character, your bravery, and I appreciate the opportunity to be able to say that to your face.” 

Commissioner Terry Pepper expressed his deep gratitude for the two taking matters in their own hands and doing what they could to save as many people as possible. “We’re really proud of you not only as a Kent Countian, but as a member of the fire service in South Bowers. And I know they’re proud of you as well,” Pepper said. “We’re proud to present this medal to you. Please wear it with pride and honor because we know you deserve it.” 

Hignutt expressed his thanks and appreciation, closing with,“It’s an honor to be part of this. I appreciate it”.