It's not out of the ordinary for a 11-year-old boy to show up on the first day of school with a cast somewhere on his body.
But the story of how Columbia Boy Scout Lucas Hines wound up with a cast on his arm for his first day at Lake Elkhorn Middle School in September 2013 is far from ordinary.
The story is so extraordinary that Hines, a Boy Scout with Troop 361 in Columbia, has been recognized by the Boy Scouts of America with a Medal of Honor for his actions, one of the highest accommodations the organization issues. According to the Baltimore Council of the Boy Scouts of America, only 2,354 medals have been awarded nationwide in the nearly 100-year history of the program.
Hines, who received the medal earlier this year, will be honored Sept. 11 at his troop's Court of Honor ceremony held at First Presbyterian Church in Columbia.
The story begins halfway across the world in Portugal when Hines, his mother Glaci and his brother Douglas, 10 at the time, were visiting relatives. It was Aug. 20, 2013, the family's last day in the country. Hines was helping his cousin Patricia Pietz, then 13, clean up some crayons at her home when he noticed a large, wooden pillar behind her was about to fall on her.
Hines quickly sprung into action and stopped the pillar from falling. But just as he thought danger was averted, the top of the pillar – a large wooden block – tumbled down on Hines and his cousin, leaving Hines with a severely broken left arm and Pietz with a cut on her scalp that required three stitches.
Glaci Hines, who was outside the home when the accident happened, recalls the hectic scene like it was yesterday.
"When I heard the noise, it was like two cars colliding," she said. "I went inside and saw my niece and I thought, 'I am losing her,'.'"
Glaci said Pietz's cut was bleeding heavily, and that she was panicking. It wasn't until after she got her niece outside and calmed her down that her son showed her his arm, which she described as being in a v-shape.
"He said: 'Mom, I think I broke my arm,' and he was holding it like you hold a baby. And I said: 'Yes son, you broke your arm'," she recalled.
Lucas said he doesn't remember what he was thinking, and he's pretty sure adrenaline took over.
"I was looking at Patricia the whole time," he said. "I noticed the blood, but I didn't notice my arm actually broken right away. It didn't start hurting until we were in the ambulance."
Hines spent the next two days in the hospital, where he underwent surgery to have two rods inserted into his arm.. Throughout the ordeal, however, Lucas – along with his brother Douglas, who helped by bring towels and water to Lucas and Patricia – remained calm, his mom said, which is something she attributes to their time in Boy Scouts.
"They have been in Cub Scouts since they were young, and they have been hearing about first aid, emergencies and preparedness," she said. "I know my two sons were better trained for this incident because of Boy Scouts."
Joe Spellman, field director for the Baltimore Council, said that Hines's story is a testament to the program.
"We teach young people not to fear accidents and to act quickly when those things happen," said Spellman, who vetted and submitted the application for the award. "It's a testimony to what scouting is about, preparing young people to have life skills that last a lifetime."
Brian Steger, scout executive and CEO of the Baltimore Council, said he's been working for the Boy Scouts for 30 years and he's only seen five of the medals awarded.
"Reacting the way he did and remaining calm at his age, I admire Lucas and his whole family," he said.
Lucas said he is thankful for the award and admits its been "fun" to receive the recognition, however, he sometimes wishes it never happened.