What’s in a name, Indy? Russell allen hill
The name “Russell Allen Hill” is probably a name you may not be familiar with, but it’s a name you should.
On November 2, 2014, Russell Hill arrived at the rental property he and his wife, Clarissa Hill, owned on Gladstone Avenue in Indianapolis. Nobody lived there at the time. He had just left the family residence on Tiffany Drive. Hill worked as a “junkyard,” as he explained, doing odd jobs in the neighborhood. He had worked for RCA Records for 17 years. Clarissa Hill worked for a health insurance company in Indianapolis. Russell Hill’s goal that day was to do some modest work in the rental property’s garage.
But fate had a different role for Hill to play on that date at this location in this town.
“I had just backed up my truck at the house when I heard dogs barking,” said Russell Hill. “I heard a child scream. At first I thought it was just a kid playing with his dogs. Then the screams got louder.
He got out of his vehicle and saw two pit bulls attacking a young boy at 31st Gladstone Street and Avenue.
“I looked around to help the little boy, but no one else stepped in,” Hill said. He was 60 years old at the time. “I couldn’t just stand there and watch these dogs attack the boy. He was such a small guy. And these dogs were killing machines. They weren’t pets.
The boy was then 12 years old.
Mr. Hill grabbed a log – he didn’t have much else to fight with – and hit the pitbulls several times. He managed to remove the two pit bulls from the child, and he then pushed the little boy through a fence.
But then the pit bull dogs turned their attention to him. “Pit bulls didn’t seem to have a problem knocking me down – and I weighed around 240 pounds,” Hill said. The attacks were brutal. They slammed him on the sidewalk – twice. His hearing is still affected years later. The pit bulls ripped off his clothes and bit him all over his body. They tried to tear off parts of his fingers and left foot.
The pit bulls attacked Russell Hill for about four minutes.
Then the rescuer was rescued himself.
A uniformed hero of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police arrived at the scene.
“Officer Michael Darst is our hero,” said Russell and Clarissa.
Hill continued, “He made split-second decisions that saved my life. As Officer Darst tried to get rid of the two pitbulls, the pitbulls chased him. He shot one of the dogs – several times – to bring it down. The other dog fled from the scene and was then taken away.
“If Officer Darst had not arrived and taken the steps he took, my husband probably would not have survived the attacks,” Clarissa said. “We are eternally grateful for what Officer Darst did that day.”
Clarissa was with their son, RJ, at the family residence on Tiffany Drive. A phone call alerted her to the events happening a few miles away.
“I dropped the phone,” Clarissa said. “RJ picked it up and took the information. He then drove me to the scene at 31st and Gladstone.
When they arrived, Hill was being loaded into an ambulance.
“I wanted to go in the ambulance with Russell,” Clarissa said. “I wanted to be with my husband, but the ambulance driver said ‘no’. He knew my niece and told me he would get Russell to the hospital as quickly as possible. Another man – a stranger – heard what was being said and was kind enough to offer to drive me and RJ to the hospital. RJ got in the front and I got in the backseat.
When they arrived at the Level I Methodist Trauma Center at Indiana University Health Methodist (IU Methodist), Clarissa Hill saw the full extent of what had happened.
“I passed out seeing Russell in the hospital,” Clarissa said. “You couldn’t see much beyond the blood. He was covered in his blood from the wounds inflicted by those pit bulls.
“I didn’t think he would survive,” she said. “Doctors were concerned about the risk of wound infection. “
Both Hills expressed their deep gratitude for the care provided by doctors, nurses, administrators and all others involved in providing needed medical care. Hill spent more than two weeks in the hospital. He had two blood transfusions and five surgeries in an attempt to repair the damage caused by the two pitbulls.
Beyond the medical care provided to IU Methodist, the medical center also provided spiritual care. Two Methodist chaplains provided pastoral compassion to the Hill family. “Both men have been very helpful,” Clarissa noted. “They told us not to worry. That things would work out.
One of the things people might not realize is the magnitude of the financial costs involved in a situation like this. Not just expenses for medical care and aftercare. But just the normal costs of living.
“We still had a mortgage to pay,” Clarissa said. “Russell has not been able to generate any income because of his injuries. I had to take about seven weeks of unpaid leave to take care of him. Our niece set up a GoFundMe account which helped raise funds so that we could continue to pay our regular bills and deal with the aftermath of pit bull attacks.
After being released from the hospital, Hill stayed at her sister-in-law’s home for about a month.
“She had a one-story house,” Hill said. “I couldn’t walk well. At the time, climbing the stairs was not possible for me.
One problem that made matters worse was that Hill no longer had health insurance. “Russell asked me to cancel his health insurance a few months before the pit bull attacks,” Clarissa explained. “He wanted to save money and didn’t see the need for health insurance. Of course, we had no idea the attacks were going to happen. “
While still at IU Methodist, the Hills once received a special visitor.
“The president of the hospital came to talk to us,” Clarissa said. “He was only there for two or three minutes, but what he told us took a huge burden off. He told us ‘We will take you’ and they did.
Les Hills said the medical costs at IU Methodist were around $ 170,000.
IU Methodist waived all charges.
The child Hill saved survived the brutal pit bull attacks. Before Hill came on the scene, a woman had tried to stop the pit bulls from attacking the child.
“I was later told that the woman used tree branches and a fire extinguisher to try and get the dogs away from the boy, but it didn’t work,” Hill said.
It was moments later that Hill took the steps that ultimately saved the child.
“Those pit bulls were biting his legs,” Hill said. “They ripped her clothes from her body. There is no doubt that the pit bulls would have killed the child. He was such a little boy, small for his age. It was horrible.
Reports said that after Hill removed the boy’s two pitbull dogs and pushed the child through the fence, a neighbor wrapped the child in a blanket and took him off the scene. The child was then taken to Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health for medical treatment.
“We met his mother in person and spoke with the boy’s grandmother over the phone,” the Hills said. “They were so grateful. The call with the grandmother in Louisiana was very moving. They are good people. Our understanding is that the mother and child left Indianapolis after the terrorist attacks to be with the grandmother in Louisiana.
On September 24, 2015, the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission of Pittsburgh announced that Russell Allen Hill was awarded the Carnegie Medal: “The Medal is awarded to those who risk their lives to an extraordinary degree while saving or attempting to save the lives of others. The statement of the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission regarding Mr. Hill is as follows:
Russell Allen Hill rescued Jalon J. Lewis from dog attacks, Indianapolis, Indiana, Nov. 2, 2014. Jalon, 12, was walking through a residential neighborhood when two pit bulls, weighing about 65 and 70 pounds, the attacked and tackled a fence. The dogs bit him several times. Hill, 60, a handyman, was sitting in his truck, parked on a property about 110 feet away, when he heard screams and growls coming from the scene. He grabbed a log from the property, ran to Jalon, and swung the log several times, hitting the dogs until they stopped attacking the boy. Hill then grabbed Jalon by the shoulders and pulled him towards the intersection on the next street. The dogs then attacked Hill, threw him onto the street, and repeatedly bit him on his arms and legs, chewing most of his clothes. A police officer responded about four minutes after the attack on Hill began and stopped it by shooting one of the dogs, sending it off. Jalon was hospitalized for one day for the treatment of multiple puncture wounds and cuts. Hill was hospitalized for 15 days for treatment, including surgery, of severe bites to his extremities, resulting in tissue loss. He recovered.
The medal is accompanied by a financial grant of $ 6,000 to Russell Hill.
Officer Darst was not eligible for a Carnegie Hero Fund Commission honor as only civilians can receive the Carnegie Medal.
IU Methodist also honored Russell Hill. The hospital named him a hero: “HERO is an ordinary person facing extraordinary circumstances and acting with courage, honor and selflessness. Also, according to Clarissa, the IU Methodist officer honored Darst.
Although he still sometimes needs a cane to walk, Hill is happy to have been able to help at this critical time on November 2, 2014.
“The child is alive. I’m alive.”
Today, Russell and Clarissa are both retired – Clarissa retired in 2016 – and still live in the same house in Indianapolis.
Given everything that happened – the physical pain, the trauma, the financial issues, everything – Hill was asked if he would do it again.
Without hesitation, the answer was “Yes”.
Russell Allen Hill is a name everyone in Indianapolis and beyond should know.
Do you have questions about the communities of Indianapolis? A street name? A landmark? Your questions can be used in a future news column. Contact Richard McDonough at [email protected].