Eagle Scout saves brother in Euless house fire




Posted on August 10, 2011 at 5:49 PM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 10 at 9:25 PM

EULESS — Sometimes training kicks in; other times it's pure instinct. 

Both came into play back in July when 17-year-old Reid Vaenuku's saw that his room was on fire in the family's Euless home, and he yelled for everybody to get out.

It was a harrowing moment for Reid's mother, 40-year-old Cela Vaenuku.

"I thought: 'Wait  —  Keio wasn't out of the house.' How could I miss that, You know? How could I miss him not coming out?" she asked.

Reid, her oldest son, didn't miss a beat, and ran back into the burning house to save his younger brother Keio, who thought someone was joking when he heard them yelling, "Fire!" and went back to sleep.

But this was no joke.

The flames were up close and personal to Reid, who watched his cell phone charger — plugged in next to his bed — erupt into flames. 

Reid jumped into rescue mode — not only yellling for everyone to get out of the house, but counting heads to make sure his six siblings were out of the house. 

"To know he was smart enough and alert enough, he stayed focused to go back in and just made me so thankful,"  Cela Vaenuku said.

Reid said adrenaline kicked in and he didn't think twice about trying to save his 16 year old brother. 

"When I came in I just ducked down to where the air was just so I could be ready to run out if anything happened," he said. "They said the roof could have caved in, but I wasn't thinking about that... just trying to come in and get him out."

Keio stands 6'-5" tall and escaped without injury, as did his entire family.  Keio plays football at Trinity High School, and you can bet that rescue drill enacted by his big brother is one he will never forget. 

Keio didn't call his brother a "hero," but his mom did.

"People call me a hero, but to me I don't think anything of it," Reid said. "I just thought, you know, I'm trying to get him out." 

Reid has already earned two medals during his Eagle Scout training. Now, the Boy Scouts of America wants to award him the organization's highest recognition —  the Honor Medal with crossed palms —  for saving one of his six siblings when everyone else panicked.

"He is very good at listening and taking on things,"  Cela Vaenuku said. "As mom, I'm proud to see him come to this point and take leadership. It makes me very proud." 

A proud family of nine, happy their big family is still intact. 

Boy Scout Troop 273 in Euless along with the Lakeview District Longhorn Council is planning a special ceremony to award and honor Reid for his selflesss and heroic actions on Wednesday August 24 at 7 p.m.  at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints building in Colleyville.

E-mail ddenmon@wfaa.com