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Mayor honors Elyria employees who found kids inside U-Haul (UPDATE/VIDEO/PHOTOS)

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    Matt Pearce, left, in white shirt, and Nick Vealey, right, in black shirt, are recognized with their families by Elyria council for their actions intervening with children found in a U-Haul truck at the Speedway Station last week.



ELYRIA – City Council saluted two city employees Monday night for intervening in a crisis situation that potentially saved the lives of several children.

Matthew Pearce and Nicholas Vealey, both full-time employees in the city’s Street Department, were honored during the meeting with a proclamation from Mayor Holly Brinda and a standing ovation from the audience.

Pearce and Vealey called police on Aug. 2 after discovering five children in the cargo area of a U-Haul truck. The children – ages 15, 6, 4, 3 and 2 -- all were suffering from fleas, bedbugs and lice, and some had ringworm. The 2-year-old required hospitalization for heat exhaustion.

The children are in the custody of Cuyahoga County Children Services.

At the time of the incident, the children were in the care of Jamie Adkins and Brian Dekam, both of Cleveland, who are charged with four counts each of endangering children.

For their quick thinking, Pearce and Vealey received identical proclamations signed by Brinda and adorned with the city seal.

The proclamation said both “went well above the call of duties in his efforts to help those in need in a true act of altruism.” Pearce and Vealey “exemplifies the quality of character to which all should aspire, not only as a public employee, but all human beings should seek to treat neighbors, friends, brothers, sisters and strangers, and the immeasurable impact their heroic efforts have created in the lives the children they helped rescue will reverberate through the rest of their respective lives.”

In describing the scene for news media the day after the rescue, both Pearce and Vealey said they were overwhelmed with the desire to help as fathers with young children of their own.

Pearce said he and Vealey were on a break about 2 p.m. Aug. 2 when they noticed a child in the back of the U-Haul. Perce stopped the vehicle and asked Dekam to get out of the cab.

Dekam then rolled up the back of the truck to reveal five children and two dogs. “It smelled like feces and reeked of cigarettes,” Pearce said.

The youngest child, Pearce said, was strapped into a car seat and appeared to be unresponsive and “was bright red as a tomato.”

Employees of the Speedway gas station called 911 while Vealey run to the nearby fire station to get help.

Vealey bought water for the children while they waited for emergency responders at Speedway.

Adkins and Dekam appeared in Elyria Municipal Court last week. Both were given personal bonds on the condition that they have no contact with the children, except for the 15-year-old, who is Dekam’s son.

The pair is due back in court for a probable cause hearing Thursday.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or Follow her on Twitter @LisaRobersonCT.

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