CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Kanawha County Sheriff Johnny Rutherford and members of the Kanawha County Commission honored two sheriff's department employees lifesaving efforts.At a regular meeting of the Kanawha County Commission on Thursday, Rutherford and commissioners presented special lifesaving awards to Christie Shamblin and Sgt. Justin Thaxton of the Kanawha County Sheriff's Department.Sheriff's department spokesman Cpl. Brian Humphreys said neither Thaxton nor Shamblin asked for recognition, but that the sheriff thought they deserved notice for their recent actions.Rutherford said Thaxton, a former Marine Corps reservist who has been with the sheriff's department for 14 years, was driving his cruiser in Charleston on Aug. 1 when he spotted hospital staff from Women and Children's Hospital trying to stop a woman from jumping off the Washington Street bridge that crosses the Elk River.
Rutherford said Thaxton jumped out of his cruiser and ran to help restrain the woman. "Without Sgt. Thaxton, we probably would have had a suicide that day," Rutherford said.Thaxton said the woman was more than 6 feet tall, and hospital staff had trouble trying to restrain her."Sgt. Thaxton's actions saved the life of another human being," Lt. Keith Vititoe said in a letter recommending Thaxton for recognition. "It is a rare occurrence in our line of work when a deputy can directly intervene to save a life. However, this incident exemplifies the everyday courage and valor that our deputies demonstrate."
Shamblin, a three-year employee of the sheriff's Tax Office, was at a convenience store in Elkview on June 11 when she noticed a man staggering and having trouble.Rutherford said K.C. Boher, a former Berkeley County sheriff's deputy and current investigator with the Frederick County [Va.] Sheriff's Office, was returning from a 5,000-mile motorcycle trip when he was stung by a bee while crossing the Kanawha River on Interstate 64. Boher, who is allergic to bees, made it to Elkview before collapsing at the convenience store.Boher wrote Rutherford a letter about the incident. Boher said Shamblin -- he couldn't remember her first name -- came to his aid."She cradled me in her arms, gave me a cold drink and put ice on the swelling," Boher wrote. "She stayed with me lying there in the parking lot until medics arrived and took over.""It's a mom thing," Shamblin said when asked why she went to help. "You just try to pay it forward. I'd hope somebody would be there for my family if something would happen."Reach Rusty Marks at firstname.lastname@example.org