County officials recognized for rescuing teen from burning tent - Scottsbluff Area News, Sports, and Weather

County officials recognized for rescuing teen from burning tent

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Two Scotts Bluff County officials are being recognized as heroes after saving a Shelton teen from a burning tent last month at Big Lake Alice north of Scottsbluff.

During Monday night's commissioners meeting in Gering, Sheriff Mark Overman presented Sergeant Mark Bliss and Deputy Scott Bibb with certificates for pulling 18-year-old Mark Vakoc from a burning tent and sleeping bag unharmed.

Shortly before midnight on April 4th, Sergeant Bliss and Deputy Bibb responded to a call from a woman. She told them she was concerned about Vakoc's well-being and that he was living in a tent.
"The first thing we heard was a dog inside and it was a puppy and then we heard Mr. Vakoc screaming in the tent shaking and we ripped the tent open," said Bibb recalling the rescue.
"The only way to get him," continued Sergeant Bliss. "We had to rip the tent open and then Deputy Bibb and I, we pulled him out of the tent and eventually out of the sleeping bag."
All three men and the dog escaped the flames unharmed in seconds.

"In retrospect, after it was over, we were standing in fire after we ripped the tent open. I mean you don't really think about that when somebody is screaming for help," said Bibb.
But even after receiving their award, both men say the real hero is the woman who was concerned enough about Vakoc's well-being.
"If she would've waited ten more minutes to call it in or decide not to call it in there's no way this person would've made it out the tent," said Bliss.
After the rescue both men learned there was an arrest warrant out for Vakoc charging him with a misdemeanor theft and shoplifting. Bliss says Vakoc joked about being very happy to go to jail.

Since his arrest, Vakoc was released from the Scotts Bluff County Detention Center. He says he never knew how the fire started.

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