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Deputy credited with saving woman from interstate jump

A deputy with the McDuffie County Sheriff's Department risked his own life to save a young woman who had threatened to kill herself by jumping off the overpass of Interstate 20 last Wednesday morning.

Deputy Sgt. Mike Hobbs said Deputy Henry Campbell, who happened to be patrolling in the immediate area when the emergency call went out, saved the woman's life.

"He did a real good job," said Sgt. Hobbs. "I appreciate what he did."

Some of the members of the woman's family described him as a hero, but Deputy Campbell said he was merely doing his job.

"I don't think of myself as a hero," said Deputy Campbell, who has worked for the sheriff's department since 1994. "I was just a police officer doing his job. I'm glad it ended the way it did."

The veteran lawman said he was happy that he was where he was when "somebody really needed my help."

The woman, whose name was not made public, "got out of her car and ran towards the side of the bridge," said Deputy Campbell, who was attempting to park his car and assist her at the time. The woman had left her 1-year-old son inside her parked car.

The baby wasn't injured and was tended to by personnel with the McDuffie County Emergency Medical Services.

"I snatched my necktie off, jumped out of the car and ran to help her," the deputy recalled. "Just as she was about to approach the side, she placed both hands on top of the bridge and lunged upwards, as if she was about to leap off."

Deputy Campbell said he then grabbed the woman around her waist in his attempt to keep her from falling an estimated 30 feet from the bridge into heavy traffic below.

The woman cried and kicked as the deputy brought her to the ground.

"She kept saying over and over, 'Just let me go,'" said Deputy Campbell, who earlier had radioed for assistance from other lawmen. Other officers with the sheriff's department, Thomson Police Department, Georgia State Patrol, Georgia Bureau of Investigation and Georgia Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division all responded to his distress call.

During the dramatic rescue, Deputy Campbell received abrasions to his left arm. He later was treated for his injuries at the local hospital.

The young woman was taken to the emergency room of McDuffie Regional Medical Center in Thomson where she was undergoing a mental evaluation that afternoon, authorities said. A caseworker with the McDuffie County Family and Children Services was contacted and conferred with law enforcement authorities before the baby was placed in the custody of family members.

The woman is now being cared for at Serenity Hospital in Augusta, according to authorities.

Web posted on Thursday, January 08, 2009

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