Local high school student honored for saving classmate’s life


For 17-year-old Ackery Harrelson a normal day at school turned into a much bigger deal in the matter of seconds.

“Hunting, fishing and the fire department.”

Avid outdoorsman, aspiring firefighter and now a local hero. Ackery Harrelson is the talk of school these days after his heroic actions back in February.

“Got up like usual,” said Ackery Harrelson, a junior at North Lenoir High shool, “went to school, went through first period, went to my EMS class which is second.”

Little did he know he would be taking the training from that class into his third hour Spanish class and saving the life of his fellow classmate.

“I noticed she had slumped over in her seat,” said Harrelson and fell into the floor and noticed she was having a seizure.”

Without hesitation Harrelson jumped into action.

“Mainly just put her head between my legs,” said Harrelson, “because I was on my knees and not really holding her head still but just putting my knees there if she would move she would hit my thighs not the wall or the ground.”

That’s when he noticed the girl was also choking on gum.

“She stopped and turned blue really fast,” said Harrelson.

Harrelson with the help of his teacher turned the girl on her side and began hitting her back until the gum came out. He then kept her between his legs until EMTs arrived.

Just a few weeks prior to the incident Ackery says his class was studying the chapter on seizures. Many believe that is more than a coincidence.

“Oh no it was always in the right place at the right time,” said Darla Boseman, EMS instructor with Lenoir Community College, “and that’s a lot of what we do so it was great that he could use what he knew and the training to definitely help her.”

Harrelson’s actions did not go unrecognized. His EMS instructors submitted the information to the American Heart Association and he was awarded the Heartsaver Hero Award.

“I’m just doing what I was trained to do and what I love to do, helping others,” said Harrelson.

In 2017, Harrelson was recognized as the Junior Firefighter of the Year in Lenoir County. He will now add to his resume the Heartsaver Hero Award, an award only three people in the nation have received this year.

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