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Governor honors McDuffie deputy for act of heroism

A deputy with the McDuffie County Sheriff's Department has been honored for heroism by Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue.

Deputy Henry J. Campbell was personally honored by Mr. Perdue during the 2009 Governor's Public Safety Awards Ceremony held at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center in Forsyth last Wednesday.

Deputy Campbell, a veteran lawman with many years in the department, saved the life of a young Thomson woman late last year by putting his own life in the balance.

The deputy rescued the woman, who had contemplated suicide by jumping off the I-20 overpass on Washington Road near Thomson on Dec. 31, 2008.

Deputy Campbell just happened to be patrolling in that area when a distress call was placed to the local 911 emergency center.

"I remember the incident like it was yesterday," recalled Deputy Campbell during an interview with The McDuffie Mirror . "I still have some flashbacks about that day when I ride across that bridge."

It was a cold and windy morning -- New Year's Eve.

Deputy Campbell's day had started out relatively like many of his days -- quiet -- with only a few calls.

In a matter of seconds that all changed. And he was thrust into immediate action.

It was a call unlike any he had answered before. And one he hopes he never has to respond to again.

He had not been trained for what was about to happen. Human instinct took that role.

As Deputy Campbell crossed the bridge, he spotted the woman's small car and observed a baby in the backseat.

"My eyes then caught her running towards the edge of the bridge," said Deputy Campbell. "I knew I had to do something to keep her from jumping, because I could just tell she wanted to kill herself from some unknown reason. I couldn't let that happen."

It was at that time that Deputy Campbell snatched his tie off, put his car in park and ran towards the woman -- hoping along the way that he'd make it in time.

"I wanted to do whatever I could do to save this woman," said Deputy Campbell. "I didn't want to see that woman end her life in such a tragic way."

He continued running. Soon his arms were outreached around the woman's waist -- attempting to hold her back from jumping off the bridge onto the heavily traveled interstate highway some 30 feet below.

During that time, the woman screamed, cried and kicked the deputy.

"She kept saying over and over, 'Just let me go,"' said Deputy Campbell, who had notified fellow deputies that he needed assistance.

Help came from officers with the Thomson Police Department, troopers with the Georgia State Patrol, agents with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and rangers with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

In the struggle to save the woman's life, Deputy Campbell received a slight injury to his left elbow. One of the sleeves of his shirt also was torn.

"I didn't mind any of that so long as I was able to keep that woman from killing herself," said Deputy Campbell. "That's all that concerned me at that time."

Deputy Campbell believes God had a hand in sparing the woman's life.

"I believe He put me close by that morning for a reason," said Deputy Campbell. "I'll always believe that."

During special ceremonies last week, Mr. Perdue bestowed Deputy Campbell with a medallion, a framed plaque and other items as a token of his appreciation for his heroic action.

He was one of 12 men honored as heroes for helping others in emergency situations across the state.


Read the original story: Deputy credited with saving woman from interstate jump

Deputy says he didn't do it for honor

Web posted on Thursday, December 10, 2009

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