Officer Hicks: in the right place at the right time - again
Master Police Officer Eric Hicks seems to always be in the right place at the right time.
On April 21, Hicks responded to an emergency call regarding a motorist suffering from a diabetic attack on Interstate 85. Facing a life-or-death situation for the third time in seven months, Hicks jumped from his squad car on the U.S. 311 exit ramp in Archdale and managed to stop the vehicle before any further damage or injuries occurred.
"I believe God puts up in places where He wants us to be," Hicks, a seven-year veteran at Thomasville Police Department, said. "Fortunately, I've been in situations where I've been able to save those who are in dire need of help."
Sunday's scenario began when Richard Oakes started having a diabetic attack while traveling on Interstate 85 with his 15-year-old son and 8-year-old nephew. After seeing his father struggling to maintain consciousness, Oakes' son called his aunt, who then dialed 911. Hicks, who was investigating a serious accident at mile marker 101, received the call and took off down the interstate to try and locate the truck.
Hicks spotted the vehicle at mile marker 110 and could instantly tell something was wrong.
"Once I got behind the vehicle, it was going about 80 to 85 mph," said Hicks. "I could see the driver began losing consciousness. I was trying to motion for [the son] to cut the truck off but he was very distraught. I knew I had to get the truck stopped."
Fading in and out of consciousness, Oakes managed to steer the truck onto the exit ramp, but Hicks knew the situation was far from resolved. With a main intersection at the top of the ramp quickly approaching, Hicks, disregarding his own personal safety, made the spilt-second decision to leave his squad car and chase down the truck while he had the chance.
"I did what I had to do," said Hicks. "[The truck[ was going about 5 mph. I got as close as I could to it and when it started to slow I jumped out of my car, ran the vehicle down and was able to put in park. We were coming up on the intersection and I didn't want any serious injuries to occur, not only to the passengers but other innocent motorists. The biggest thing was putting myself on the back burner. I just did what needed to be done."
With the truck stopped, Hicks helped the victim treat his diabetic issues with some food and turned him over to a relieved family. Hicks credits Oakes' quick-thinking son for helping avoid a potential tragedy.
"The real person to thank is the son and the family members who contacted us and enabled us to make contact with the vehicle," Hicks said. "The true lifesaver in this situation is the son for calling for help."
Last August, Hicks helped save a choking infant on Dominic Drive when he performed CPR until paramedics arrived. In October, Hicks and another officer pulled a man from a serious wreck on Interstate 85 involving a truck carrying hazardous materials.
"I don't know if you can really train for these situations," Hicks said. "I'm just glad I had the experience of a situation like this prior to this one. You just try to use common sense and judgement in the face of the dangers."
Staff Writer Eliot Duke can be reached at 888-3578, or firstname.lastname@example.org.