Not all heroes wear capes.
Some play tuba or trombone in their high school’s marching band or are stars on its wrestling team.
Such is the case with 17-year-old Max Campbell and brothers Alex and Julian Lindley, 17 and 15 years old respectively.
It was around midnight Thursday morning when the three Taylor High School students were in the Indian Heights subdivision dropping Julian’s girlfriend back off at her house.
A few moments later, the teens noticed what appeared to be fire coming from a house on Buckskin Drive that belonged to one of their friends, and they stopped to warn those inside of the situation.
“We got out of the car and knocked on the door, and they didn’t answer,” Alex told the Tribune Thursday afternoon.
So the three then walked around to their friend’s window and knocked again, able to finally draw some attention from inside.
“But they didn’t believe us at first,” Alex added, referring to their friend and another teenager that had also been staying at the house that night. “They thought we were pranking them. And we were like, ‘Dude, your house is on fire.’ … The fire was spreading quickly, too.”
After the reality of the fire finally set in, Campbell and the Lindley brothers began to assist the homeowner (their friend’s father) and a neighbor with getting everyone safely out of the structure, including six people and four animals.
“There was no hesitation at all,” Campbell said, “not even in the slightest. It was just, ‘There’s a fire, now go get them out. … It’s just one of those things that there can’t be any hesitation in a serious situation like that because when there’s hesitation, that’s when things go from bad to worse. We just happened to do the right thing at the right time.”
And doing the right thing at the right time is exactly what the boys’ mothers, Vanessa Lindley and Della Campbell, said they were proud of when it came to the events of Thursday morning.
“I think you always wonder as a parent what your kids will do in certain situations,” Vanessa said. “But just knowing that they had the initiative to do the right thing and God protected them, and they definitely allowed God to use them as a vessel for good, I think that’s the most rewarding thing. In that moment, they knew exactly what to do.
“The Bible says to not let others look down on you just because you’re young,” she added, “because you can still make an impact.”
Della agreed with Vanessa, noting that she cried when she first saw how many people shared the boys’ story on social media Thursday.
“They’re such good boys,” Vanessa said. “They’re young. They could have driven past it and not cared or driven past it and just called 911 and kept going. But they didn’t. And I’m so very proud of them.”
Their mothers weren’t alone in that regard.
Kokomo Fire Department Chief Chris Frazier also took a few moments Thursday afternoon to offer similar sentiments.
“It’s great that they (Campbell and the Lindleys) were aware enough to notice the house was on fire,” he said. “Houses can be fully involved, and because of trees and things like that, you may not even notice it. So, the fact that those boys were able to pick out that it was on fire, stop, initiate 911 and get us on our way and also try to go get those people out of the house, that says a lot about them.
“A lot of times you’ll see the younger generations, and their titles are used to downplay how much they pay attention or care,” Frazier added. “But it’s obvious that even kids today, they are concerned about their neighbors and communities, and they’ll step up and do what they need to when they have to.”
Because at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you’re 17 or 70.
Doing what is right is always the best option, everyone that was interviewed said.
“I think teenagers get a bad rap because people say we’re just trying to cause trouble, and that’s not true at all,” Max said. “There are a lot of good people out there. They just get buried under all the bad these days.”
Alex nodded his head in agreement.
“A lot of people say, ‘Oh, they’re just teenagers.’ No one listens to teenagers. But that time (Thursday morning), they had to listen to us because otherwise lives were going to be lost. … A lot of people have thrown out the word hero at me. But I tell them I’m just being human. If my friend’s in trouble, I’m going to go help out my friend.”
The cause of Thursday’s fire is still under investigation.