When a deputy on guard duty suddenly fell unconscious, a group of inmates on outdoor work detail were presented with a golden opportunity to try something. Quickly, they grabbed his gun belt and phone…
The six inmates were cutting grass at a cemetery for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office on work detail one morning in June 2017 when suddenly, the deputy who was monitoring them at the site collapsed, unconscious.
With the officer down and helpless, his gun, van, and cell phone at the inmates’ fingertips, it was completely up to them what they wanted to do. What they did next, however, might well have determined that guard’s survival.
Right away, they took off the officer’s gun belt and opened up his bulletproof vest. Then, they grabbed his phone and ripped his shirt open. They were thinking they might need to expose his chest if they needed to perform CPR. Then, one of the inmates used the officer’s phone to dial 911.
One of the inmates, Greg Williams, told WXIA the deputy was unconscious for one minute, and he was not breathing. “When he started breathing, it was just real heavy and real fast,” he said.
EMS eventually arrived at the scene.
The inmates could have taken the gun and escaped in his work van. “They could have taken the gun, got the work van and gone,” Polk County Sheriff Johnny Moats said, in an interview with TIME. “They could have done anything they wanted. They were out there by themselves with this one officer. If they would have left him there, it could have been hours before anyone came across him.”
However, surprisingly, not one of them considered escaping when the deputy, who declined to be identified, collapsed. “Not one of us,” another inmate, Joshua Bollen, told 11 Alive.
All they thought of at the moment was saving the officer’s life. “You know, now after everything went down we were cutting up going, ‘Ah man,’ but we were so worried about the officer when he went down that not once did one of us ever think about running,” Bollen said.
“When that happened, in my opinion, it wasn’t about who is in jail and who wasn’t. It was about a man going down, and we had to help him,” Williams said.
— 11Alive News (@11AliveNews) June 20, 2017
Afterward, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office applauded the inmates’ decision and quick actions. “They really stepped up in a time of crisis and show that they care about my officers,” Moats said. “That really speaks a lot about my officers too, how they treat these inmates. They treat them like people. Like family.”
The deputy has since recovered and returned to work. He later told 11 Alive he knew the six inmates well after working together for five days a week, seven hours a day. “We spend a lot of time together,” he said.
As for the inmates, who all have been jailed for minor criminal offenses, Sheriff Moats said he would recommend their sentences to be reduced by one-fourth as a reward for their good deed.
The officer’s family members even awarded a free lunch with dessert and pizza to the six inmates in the park to show their appreciation for their making a right decision.
"It wasn't about who is in jail and who wasn't. It was about a man going down, and we had to help him."
In stark contrast, just a week prior to this incident, two Georgia prison inmates had escaped from a prison bus and fatally shot two guards.
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office told of the tragedy on their Facebook page alongside the more recent rescue of their deputy.
“As we watched the horrific manhunt this week of the two inmates that killed two correctional officers and were captured last night, we all know that Monday could have ended differently for our officer,” the office concluded in the post. “We are very proud of the actions of all six inmates involved.”
As this story spread like wildfire around America and the world, these six inmates were being praised for their heroic actions. They were given the nickname “The Marvelous Six” by one netizen.
“It makes me feel good. It is a lot of folks from all over the world like you said thanking us for what we did. A quick decision could get so many compliments and comments, instead of grief,” Bollen said.
A good or bad outcome comes from one thought. Positive thoughts can lead to positive outcomes. The story would end differently if these inmates chose to do the unthinkable. But because they did the right thing to save the officer, they got a well-deserved free lunch, reduced sentences, and admiration from people across the nation or even around the globe!
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