When Terrance Washington left his house to host a practice for his youth football team, he never imagined that he'd end up 15 feet below the surface trying to comfort a terrified 2-year-old. Nor did he think he'd be lauded as a hero.
Somehow that practice proved to be the exact moment when the Louisville native's instincts helped solve one family's misfortune near a local well.
As reported by Louisville TV network WDRB, the scary incident unfolded at Louisville's Russell Lee Park, where a 2-year-old girl had been playing and somehow fell into a traditional well that was approximately 15-feet deep. Washington was coaching his team nearby and heard the toddler scream. From there, the coach's dual training as a soldier and father took over.
"As a parent, you don't want to hear that scream and I immediately needed to get down to her," Washington told WDRB. "You pray on the way down and it's in God's hands. My job was to get to that child. 12 years in the military, I think instinct kicked in. No man left behind.
"She wasn't moving, just screaming and then she put her arms around me. I knew in that moment everything was going to be okay."
Eventually everything was ok, but not for awhile. One hour and 15 minutes, to be exact. During that period Washington shifted his focus from getting to the girl to keeping her from panicking. He got her to sing the itsy bitsy spider and eventually convinced her that they would both be ok.
When Louisville Fire Department rescuers arrived on the scene they were able to use Washington to get the youngster out of the well safely, after which Washington was extricated himself. By the time he got out, a large crowd had gathered to congratulate the coach on his on-the-spot heroism.
Not that he would hear any of it, of course.
"I don't like being called a hero. It was a reaction. I did what I hope most would do," Washington concluded.