A Liberty County deputy was honored Monday for helping pull a trapped person from a burning car in November.
Bailey Kitchings was among several sheriff’s department officers honored for life-saving and heroic deeds by Sheriff Steve Sikes and Chief Deputy Jon Long, who also announced several promotions within the department.
Kitchings received two awards, one for life saving and another for meritorious service, which was also presented to Deputy Michael Ward.
They earned the meritorious award after responding to a burglary in progress March 5. Long said the deputies blocked any possible exits for the suspects.
“The quick response, use of tactics and thorough investigation employed by Deputies Kitchings and Ward resulted in the capture of two burglary suspects and the recovery of personal property that included priceless items that could not be replaced,” Long said.
Kitchings’ life-saving award was for his actions on Nov. 19, after arriving at a vehicle accident on Leroy Coffer Highway. Witnesses told him there was a person trapped inside the burning vehicle.
Kitchings saw the unconscious driver, but found the vehicle locked. He used his baton to break a window and unlock the doors. Two other people, who were not identified, then helped Kitchings get the driver out of the vehicle safely.
“Without regard for his own safety, and placing his own life in extreme danger, Deputy Kitchings’ quick thinking and training resulted in a life being saved,” Long said.
Lt. Brian Barnes also received a meritorious service award for peacefully resolving a dangerous situation on Feb. 24.
During a vehicle pursuit on I-95 that day Barnes used a tactical maneuver that forced the suspects’ vehicle off the road and into some woods. The vehicle overturned by the suspects weren’t giving up.
Barnes approached the car but stayed in some high grass. Barnes was able to see one of the suspects pointing an AR-15 rifle toward
where he expected the deputies to approach. The lieutenant warned other deputies of the threat, and then challenged the suspect, ordering him to drop the weapon. The suspect complied and was taken into custody along with the second occupant.
“The armed suspect is a convicted felon, and had previously told his passenger that he was going to shoot it out with the deputies,” Long said.
The chief and sheriff also named Clay Rowe as an honorary deputy. Rowe was the first person on scene on Dec. 5 when a school bus crashed along Ray Road in Gum Branch.
“Before any of the professionals arrived, Mr. Clay Rowe was driving by on Georgia 196 and thought it strange that the bus was stopped on Ray Road. What he found was a bus full of young children who were very confused and frightened. Some had injuries, which added to the chaos,” Long said. “Mr. Rowe then began doing what he does best, care for those in need. He helped the children off the bus and moved them to his vehicle. He then went back onto the bus and found the driver and one small girl trapped inside. Knowing he could not help them, he returned to the other students. He was able to comfort them and assure them help was on the way. As they waited for first responders to arrive, Mr. Rowe prayed with the students and continued to comfort them.”
Sikes said, “You know if we had more civilians like this man right here our job would be so much simpler. This is a man with a heart for God. I appreciate him so much.”
Sikes also presented Deputy Ralph Dixson his service revolver in honor of his recent retirement from the LCSO.
Maj. Jeff Hein presented sergeant stripes to William Barber and promoted Anita Walthour from sergeant to lieutenant.
Hein also promoted Lt. Lonnie Bowman to captain. Major Dennis Davis promoted Chris Reed from sergeant to lieutenant.