GREENUP COUNTY, Ky. (WOWK) — Normally, first responders are the ones helping us in emergencies, but early Sunday morning the roles reversed when a deputy sheriff in Kentucky was caught in a bad situation.
As four friends drove home from a softball tournament late Saturday/early Sunday morning, they came across a strange scene on the rural AA Highway.
“It was like super, super dark, the fog was really dense. So whenever we came up on it, we just saw all these blue lights. And we were like, ‘Oh there must be a traffic stop, something’s going on,'” says Heidi Stiltner, one of the four who stopped to help the injured deputy.
What they actually found was far worse.
“There was a car that was parked and there was two cruisers that were pulled over, and one of the officers was like frantically running around,” Stiltner says.
Sheriff Matt Smith of Greenup County says one of his deputies had stopped to help what appeared to be a disabled vehicle.
A check of the vehicle’s license plates showed a problem, and the deputies learned driver Matthew Watts had a warrant out for his arrest on a strangulation charge. Watts took off running and the deputies followed.
“We pursued him into the woods and up the embankment. At one point it appeared like he might have struck Deputy Whitaker in the face, and um, I don’t recall much after that. I just remember ending up in a creekbed,” said injured deputy Zachary Clark.
That’s when Heidi, her fiancée James Houston, Patrick Ewing and his wife Shamra found Deputy Zachary Clark.
“We had our windows down, and we heard someone screaming for help. Like coming from like the woods, going ‘God please help, someone, it hurts, please help,’ and I told James, ‘Something is wrong,'” Stiltner says.
They found Clark in the creek unable to move his arm.
“When they get him up out of the creek, to like the embankment, I have my flashlight and you just see blood pouring from the back of his head,” Stiltner says.
The group bandaged him up and waited for the ambulance to arrive. Clark had a broken collarbone and broken ribs.
“Without them I don’t know how I would’ve gotten out of the creekbed, I probably would have laid there until an ambulance got there,” Clark says.
“We didn’t do it for recognition or anything. We did it because we like helping people. Period,” said Patrick Ewing, one of the four who stopped to help the injured deputy.
The suspect, Matthew Watts, is still on the run. He now faces additional felony charges after assaulting and evading the officers. Police believe he caught a ride to South Shore, Kentucky.
Anyone with information is asked to call the police immediately.