MFRD Engineer Benjamin Honeycutt says he owes his life to Matt Blansett, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office detective who died Tuesday in a helicopter crash. Honeycutt was in a near-fatal car crash 23 years ago and Blansett came to the rescue.
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Murfreesboro Fire Rescue Department Engineer Benjamin Honeycutt says he owes his life to Matt Blansett, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office detective who died Tuesday in a helicopter crash. Honeycutt was in a near-fatal car crash 23 years ago and Blansett came to the rescue.
“Medically, I’m not supposed to be here,” Honeycutt said.
At age 17, Honeycutt was involved in a wreck on a South Pittsburg Mountain on December 16, 1999. Blansett and his father, Donald, who volunteered with the South Pittsburg Volunteer Fire Department at the time, responded.
“They responded up to the mountain and got me extricated and down the mountain and airlifted to Erlanger in Chattanooga,” Honeycutt said. “I survived because of them.”
Honeycutt’s injuries were so severe that he did not know if he would live. The doctors even told his parents to be prepared because they did not think he would make it.
“I had a torn aorta, lacerated liver, left lung collapse, stomach collapse, two fractured ribs and bruises,” Honeycutt said. “I also had a bleeding kidney, lost parts of his spleen, spinal cord damage, brain bleed, and lost 12-inches of colon. I died three times on the operating table.”
Knowing that one of the men who helped save his life lost his in a helicopter crash along with Tennessee Highway Patrol Sergeant Tim Russell was hard for Honeycutt to believe.
“You just stand there in shock and you do not really know what to say or do,” Honeycutt said. “But when it starts to absorb it starts to break your heart.”
Honeycutt, fellow firefighters, and Murfreesboro Police Department officers stood on the South Church Street bridge over Interstate 24 Wednesday in salute, as law enforcement officers accompanied Blansett’s body from Nashville to East Tennessee.
“I thought it would be good for us to show our respect and support for his family,” Honeycutt said. “He was just one of those people that you were a better person for even knowing him.”
The crash in 1999 would not be their final encounter, Honeycutt had a second crash on the same mountain in April 2001. Blansett also responded to that crash.
Honeycutt plans to attend his former South Pittsburg High School friend’s funeral.
“He was a good soul and he exemplified devotion, and honor to a selfless service, but he did it because he cared and loved people even if he didn’t know who they were,” Honeycutt said. “He was a great guy, and he’s going to be missed.”
Blansett is survived by his wife and two sons.
Honeycutt is the son of former MFRD Assistant Chief and Fire Marshal Ken Honeycutt.