E. Texas firefighter severely injured in fire: 'I was just in th - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

E. Texas firefighter severely injured in fire: 'I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time'

Joe Yeakley returned to Lindale last week after ten months in the hospital. (Source: KLTV Staff) Joe Yeakley returned to Lindale last week after ten months in the hospital. (Source: KLTV Staff)
Yeakley says he's glad to finally be home and catch up on all that he's missed. (Source: KLTV Staff) Yeakley says he's glad to finally be home and catch up on all that he's missed. (Source: KLTV Staff)
Yeakley says the community's thoughts and prayers are what has gotten him through his recovery and beyond. (Source: KLTV Staff) Yeakley says the community's thoughts and prayers are what has gotten him through his recovery and beyond. (Source: KLTV Staff)
LINDALE, TX (KLTV) - An East Texas hero says he's glad to finally be home. 

Joe Yeakley, a Lindale firefighter, was seriously hurt when a wall fell on him in January while he was fighting a fire inside a home. 

"I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time," says Yeakley, "I was conscious when the wall fell on me and I remember digging my way out, but then I was not conscious." 

Yeakley, who had been recovering at Parkland Hospital in Dallas since then returned home last week.

“It's just been unreal how supportive everyone has been for me,” he says.

Just last week, hundreds of friends, family and supporters lined Highway 69 in Lindale to welcome Joe Yeakley home. 

“We're thrilled to death to have him home. It's been a long 10 months, especially for him and his family," said Jerry Garner, a former Lindale Fire Chief.

“We're incredibly blessed that dad has the opportunity to come home,” said his daughter Nicole Cornish.

More than 50 trucks and firefighters from all over East Texas joined in the special homecoming.

“I couldn't believe all the people that were standing out in the street to wave and welcome me home and all the fire departments that participated in the in bringing me into Lindale," says Yeakley. It was just unbelievable. I couldn't believe it.” 

But all those supporters aren't new. They've had Yeakley in their thoughts and prayers for the past year.

“When I was in the hospital and saw all the pictures of the 'pray for Joe' signs and just all the prayers and support that we've received from the Lindale and East Texas community is just unbelievable. It's unreal what everyone's done for me and for my family,” he says.

Now that he's finally home, Yeakley says he's catching up on all the things he's missed.

“There are new restaurants and new shops; Just all kinds of new things that people are having to catch me up on that I missed out on in the 10 months I was gone from home,” he says.

Yeakley's also focusing on his recovery.

“I'm still continuing therapy in Tyler. I go to Tyler five days a week for therapy and will continue that probably for several more months until I can get my strength and get back to being independent,” he says.

With all he's been through, Yeakley says it's the prayers that have gotten him through.

“I mean there was a time that even the doctors didn't think I was going to make it. I wouldn't have had it not been for the prayers. Prayers are what got me through my days in ICU, and then it's been prayer that's gotten me through my rehab. It's going to continue to get me through the days ahead,” says Yeakley.

Yeakley was given the Star of Texas Award by Governor Rick Perry in October. That award honors emergency workers injured or killed in the line of duty.

Copyright 2014 KLTV. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly