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On July 19, 2021, Sgt. Judy Hinton was awarded a Commissioner’s Coin, Letter of Appreciation, and cash spot bonus from Warden Frank Littlejohn for her heroic actions on June 10, 2021.

On Thursday, June 10, 2021, Sgt. Judy Hinton attended Department of Corrections (DOC) Supervisor’s Training at the Correctional Training Institute in New Castle, Indiana. At the conclusion of the training Sgt. Hinton decided to take a co workers advice and headed home on Highway 3, in order to avoid the construction occurring in the Indianapolis area.  This decision is what allowed Sgt. Hinton to be in the right place at the right time.

When class was over, Sgt. Hinton found Highway 3 and proceeded south towards home late that afternoon. Traffic wasn’t bad as Sgt. Hinton traveled home to Perry County. Just past Rushville, IN Sgt. Hinton observed a “high water” sign on the side of the road.  As she looked to the opposite side of the road approximately 400-500 feet from her she witnessed a red car hit high water at a high rate of speed. The bumper flew off of the car, and the car immediately started rolling, stopping upside down, in a ditch of about 3 feet of water. Sgt. Hinton and the car behind her immediately pulled over.  Sgt. Hinton jumped from her vehicle, ran to the ditch, waded into the water towards the overturned car while dressed in her full DOC uniform, and discovered a female hanging upside down by her seatbelt inside the car.

 “ARE YOU OKAY? CAN YOU HEAR ME?” shouted Sgt. Hinton. The female inside the car responded “Yes”, but that she was unable to get her seatbelt undone. Sgt. Hinton didn’t hesitate, she jerked the door open and reached in to get to help the driver of the car get her seatbelt undone, but by this time driver had released the seatbelt and landed in the seat face first. Sgt. Hinton grabbed her arm and asked if she could move, when the driver responded “yes” Sgt. Hinton pulled her from the car. Upon leaving the vehicle, the driver dropped down into the water and appeared to be in shock. Sgt. Hinton, assisted the driver from the water, up the hill to the side of the road to a safe spot to assess her injuries and provide care and comfort.

The driver had scrapes and cuts on her legs and one gash on her right foot. Sgt. Hinton ran to her truck and got a box of tissues to stop the bleeding on her legs. Sgt. Hinton went on to describe, “As I was dabbing her legs, she began to cry. She said that the car she was driving was her daughter’s and that her daughter is in the Army out of state. She began to cry that she didn’t know what she was going to do.” As Sgt. Hinton sat listening to her, the man from the other vehicle that had stopped, asked her if anyone else was in the car with her. She began to wail that her dog was with her and the man ran back to the ditch and found her little dog who was unharmed except for a small scratch.

Sgt. Hinton stated, “I never asked what her name was, but as she kept crying she revealed she was on her way to go camping, just so I could get alone time with God.” She had found out that day she has thyroid cancer, and she just needed to talk to God!

Sgt. Hinton hugged her and told her that maybe God had found a different way to talk to her today, and began to pray for her. Sgt. Hinton acknowledged praying wasn’t something some people would choose to do, but this lady had almost lost her life because she wanted to go talk to God!

As Sgt. Hinton was speaking to the driver, asking if she could contact anyone for her, as the Rush County Sheriff Department and an ambulance arrived. When asked if she had a wallet or phone, the woman responded it was in the car and one of the deputies waded into the ditch to retrieve it for her. At the same time Sgt. Hinton produced her cell phone for the woman to contact her father and tell him what had just happened. After making her call, the driver, along with her dog, stood up and walked to the ambulance. Sgt. Hinton spoke briefly to the Sheriff and asked if there was anything he needed from her. He looked at her uniform and said “Thank You, I think we got it from here.” Sgt. Hinton, in soaked clothing, returned to her vehicle and continued the 2.5-hour journey the rest of the way home.

Sgt. Hinton, said she had time to reflect on her drive home. She began to think just how quickly we need to react to a situation, and as Correctional Sergeant, all the training the DOC provides to its employees gives them the ability to react accordingly. Sgt. Hinton went on to say “I am so thankful and grateful for all that DOC does to keep us trained.”

Thank you, Sgt. Hinton for your quick response, and situational awareness, this day may have ended far worse if you hadn’t decided to take a different way home.

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