'I was there for a reason' Inmate saves tornado survivors at Mayfield candle factory

Marco Sanchez
Posted at 8:30 AM, Mar 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-01 19:28:43-05

MAYFIELD, Tenn. (WTVF) — Instead of running from the law, an inmate on a work detail helped pull tornado survivors from a candle factory in Mayfield.

It’s eerily quiet in Mayfield nearly three months after a deadly tornado hit. A sign that says "hope" sits in the square by the abandoned courthouse. All that’s left of the candle factory is a concrete slab.

Marco Sanchez was an inmate on a work detail at the factory when an EF4 destroyed it. "I thought I was the only one left," Sanchez said.

He climbed back under the rubble and found survivors. He calmed them down as he rescued them. "This is very dangerous, we both can die, and I’m here to give my life for you," Sanchez recalled telling the survivors.

He had to improvise to free a woman pinned under metal and heavy 55-gallon drums. "I went in search for tools, and I drained the liquid from the drums, so I could take some weight off, and would be able to get them out," Sanchez said.

His quick thinking likely saved their life. "They wouldn’t let go of me," Sanchez said.

Sanchez had a broken leg and ribs, but that didn't stop him. "I took them to safety, I came back for the other ones," Sanchez said. "I didn’t feel anything, I knew I was there for a reason."

His story made the rounds, and the community donated items to him at the sheriff’s office. It’s now located in a strip mall since the jail is gone.

"People have been so generous," Sanchez said. "It’s brought my confidence back."

Sanchez said after the tornado, he also reconnected with his family. He told News Channel 5's Alexandra Koehn that he wants to go back to church to stay on the right path.

"I have the community, I have my family," Sanchez said, "There’s a lot of job offers."

On March 1, he was released from jail. He looks forward to rebuilding his life while his community rebuilds too. "This is a new start," Sanchez said.

To help him get on his feet, someone has already given him a car. If you would like to assist him monetarily, checks can be sent to Mayfield-Graves County Tornado Relief Fund P.O. Box 9 Fancy Farm, Kentucky 42039. It needs to be made out to Mr. Marco Sanchez. Donations can also be dropped off at the Independence Bank located at 100 East College Street Mayfield, Kentucky.