Lone Georgia Deputy Rescues Eight Trapped Victims After Crash With Semi-Truck
Monroe County, GA – A Whitfield County Sheriff’s deputy singlehandedly helped save the lives of eight people after a semi-truck jackknifed and swept multiple vehicles down a steep embankment.
The crash occurred on Interstate 475 northbound near Dixie Highway/Georgia 19 on Dec. 13, WMAZ reported.
A Georgia State Patrol (GSP) trooper was handling several collisions on Interstate 75 Northbound, which caused traffic to come to a standstill.
The semi-truck driver was unable to stop in time, so he veered to the left in an attempt to avoid slamming into the gridlock, crashing into two vehicles in the process, WMAZ reported.
The 18-wheeler and the other two vehicles all broke through a guardrail and tumbled down a steep embankment.
Whitfield County Deputy Shawn Giles and Deputy Andy Center were transporting an inmate from Turner County to Whitfield County when the crash occurred right in front of them.
“The cars rolled about three times” before one came to rest on top of the other, Deputy Giles told WTVC.
The bottom vehicle had a family of seven inside, and a girl was trapped inside the second car.
“I’ve worked traffic most of my career, almost 20 years, and I’ve seen a lot of accidents, a lot of fatalities, and I really thought somebody was dead,” Deputy Giles told WTVC.
Deputy Center remained in the patrol vehicle to monitor the inmate while Deputy Giles ran down the embankment to check on the victims.
The top vehicle was smoking, and fuel was leaking everywhere.
Deputy Giles crawled through the busted-out windshield and began pulling victims to safety.
“[The] mom is just screaming, and I remember saying, ‘I got you. We got everything. Just relax, go easy. Just take a deep breath. We got it’ in a calm voice to her,” he said.
“I got in the bottom car first because there was kids in there,” Deputy Giles explained. “I got half of the family out, and gas was just pouring in on top of us.”
The veteran deputy was terrified, but knew he had to do whatever he could to rescue the trapped victims.
“That was the first time I’ve had to go ‘Do I want to die today because this could be a good chance,’” he recalled. “That was a scary moment, probably one of the only times I’ve had to check myself, but I just told myself to get back there and get these kids out.”
He turned his attention to two young girls who were screaming in the wreckage of the bottom car.
“They were…screaming, ‘please help, please help, please help me.’ They were about 11 or 12,” Deputy Giles said.
The deputy said he was determined to stay focused despite the chaos going on around him, WTVC reported.
“Mom and Dad screaming and yelling. Dad’s brother was in a car in front of them, so he and his wife had stopped and were out there screaming and yelling because of the baby trapped inside. Everybody’s cut, everybody’s hurt, it was mass hysteria for about 20 minutes,” Deputy Giles recalled.
Once the girls were safe, the deputy fought desperately to free a girl who was going in and out of consciousness inside the top car.
“I told her, ‘girl, you gonna have to help me because it’s just me and you,’” Deputy Giles told WTVC. “The car was stuck up on an angle, and it was awkward getting her out. I’m standing on top of the one on the bottom, trying to get her out the driver’s side. She was crawling out, and she finally got enough gumption to help me get her out of the car.”
He then took off his coat and wrapped the girl in it to protect her from the rain while emergency medical personnel responded.
“It was pouring rain,” Deputy Giles explained. “It was freezing…she was starting to go into shock.”
The deputy rescued a total of eight people that day, WTVC reported.
Seven victims were transported to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries, according to WMAZ.
“After all these years, reacting to stuff like that, you just go to work,” Deputy Giles said of his actions. “I know I’d want somebody to get my babies out.”
“The Good Lord put me in the right place at the right time on that one,” he added.