SPRING GARDEN – The Cherokee County Sheriff's Office presented two awards Friday after a deputy and a high school student saved a girl's life during a football game on Aug. 26.
Cherokee County Sheriff Jeff Shaver presented the awards to Deputy and SRO Jamie Parris and Spring Garden 12th grader Aubrey Sadler.
The game between Spring Garden and Coosa was proceeding like any other Friday night. That is, until halftime when 15-year-old football manager Lillian Thacker experienced a medical emergency. She was running out of the locker room when she suddenly passed out and fell to the ground. The next thing she knew, she was in an ambulance heading to the hospital.
It's what happened between the fall and Thacker regaining consciousness that earned Parris and Sadler some special recognition Friday as the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office gathered at the same football field.
In recounting the incident, Sadler said she was walking back from the concession stand during halftime when she saw Thacker lying face down on the sideline. She quickly jumped into action and went to get help. Thankfully, she found Deputy Parris.
Parris said at first he thought he was being called over to disperse a fight, but what he saw next was not what he expected.
"I ran over there, rolled [Thacker] over, and her lips were blue," said Parris. "She was unresponsive, and I didn't feel a pulse."
Parris performed CPR on Thacker and noticed her color started to come back. Her pulse also soon returned, though she remained unconscious. Parris continued to give aid until emergency services arrived and took Thacker to the hospital.
While receiving his award Friday, Parris said he was humbled, and he said he was just doing his job that night.
"I really wasn't thinking; I just addressed the situation," explained Parris. "There wasn't a whole lot of thinking to it … It makes me proud, but it's just another day. I would do it for any of my kids here, and I'm glad I was there. I don't feel like I did anything special, but I'm glad she's okay."
Sheriff Shaver said it was important to recognize his deputy and Sadler.
"They deserve it," said Shaver. "They do a great job. Jamie does a great job, and you get put where you're supposed to be."
"That's huge for a kid that's a senior at our school," Spring Garden Principal Brian Clowdis said about Sadler. "To hop a fence and check on a kid, hop back over a fence and go get someone, that's insane to me to even think that a high school kid can do that. By Jamie and Aubrey doing what they did, she's here now, and it's just awesome."
Sadler also said she didn't have time to think about when the incident happened, and she felt she was just doing what she had to do.
"I think this is really big," Sadler said. "I wasn't expecting this. Whenever I did what I did, it was just out of instinct. I didn't think it was like this massive deal. I think anyone that would have seen that would've done the same thing because I wasn't just going to leave her there."
The deputies at the award ceremony Friday told Sadler she has the skills to make a good officer and she should consider joining the force someday.
"My dad would not let me be a cop!" exclaimed Sadler.
Thacker had already survived brain cancer when she was in the third grade. Now in 10th, she said Sadler and Parris truly saved her life.
"I am very thankful," Thacker said with a smile. "I wouldn't be here without them."
Thacker spent the night in the hospital but is doing well now.
In fact, Parris said he was happy to see her when she came back in the hallway at Spring Garden High School.
"Her first day back at school, she came up to me and hugged my neck and told me thank you," Parris remembered. "Her and her mom also made me a gift basket with candy … She's a great kid. Now I see her in the hall every day and get a fist bump."
Thacker said she feels stronger after all she has been through.
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