Four Law Enforcement Officers Recognized as Heroes
Easley City Council was met with a packed house, as people came to honor the four men who assisted a trooper after a line-of-duty crash.
Every eye in the room was on them, but their faces told the story.
Each tucked their chins to their chest, listening intently, as Capt. Michael Warren of S.C. Highway Patrol Troop 3, read a letter from Lance Cpl. K.K. "Kris" Bratcher:
“As a law enforcement officer, you know going in what the risk is every day but it isn’t something that you constantly have on your mind. Every day you get up, put on the uniform and do the job. A career in law enforcement is a calling no matter what the arena, and it’s mine to do and my privilege to do it."
It was the same job each of the men credited with saving his life do each day.
Pickens Co. Sheriff’s Deputy Dwight Benjamin Taylor and Easley officers, Patrolman Adam Roy Green, Master Patrolman Robert Felton and Sgt. Jeremy David Benjamin received a standing ovation for doing their job and doing it well.
The word "hero" was used several times to describe each of them, but the four young men, who were being honored for saving one of their own, were humble.
"Tonight, we celebrate the lives of one who was saved," said Leroy Smith, director of the S.C. Department of Public Safety.
At Monday's Easley City Council meeting, Green, Felton and Benjamin were presented a proclamation by Mayor Larry Bagwell and were awarded the Police Life-Saving Medal by Easley Police Department. Each of the men also will receive a commendation in their personnel file.
Taylor would then join the trio to accept commendations from the Department of Public Safety, the S.C. Highway Patrol and the Fraternal Order of Police Foothills Lodge No. 9.
They would be presented with an award for a "selfless act of valor." Each of the officers would also be presented an award from the Fraternal Order of Police for heroism in the selfless acts of saving a fellow officer.
Sworn to protect and to serve, the officers put their own lives at risk in order to save a fellow law enforcement officer.
But many people said, if you asked these "heroes" what all the fuss was about, they would say, "I was just doing my job."
Bratcher, who had been chasing a motorcyclist, around 4 a.m. lost control of his vehicle and ran off of Brushy Creek Road during the pursuit. His car caught fire shortly after the crash and luckily three officers were there to help.
The officers attempted to extinguish the flames but were unsuccessful and worked tirelessly to free Bratcher from the vehicle and carry him to safety.
Bratcher's parents Betty and Kenny Bratcher expressed their gratitude privately to each officer offering a hug and and a handshake after the presentation.
Cpl. Mike Oliver, commander of the S.C. Highway Patrol, these four officers risked their lives to save one of their own. Oliver said Bratcher is continuing to recover and expects to return to the Highway Patrol.
"He is recovering and is in rehab," Oliver said. "He has a long road of recovery ahead of him, but he's in good spirits and expects to make a full recovery and return to the road."
“As a law enforcement officer, you know going in what the risk is every day but it isn’t something that you constantly have on your mind. Every day you get up, put on the uniform and do the job. A career in law enforcement is a calling no matter what the arena, and it’s mine to do and my privilege to do it.
If you’ve been on the job for any length of time, you know someone or have experienced through the law enforcement family someone having an accident or being in the wrong place at the wrong time. You learn to pull together and do everything you can to make it right, make it better for those touched personally. This time it happened to me.
You never quite understand those people you hear saying things like ‘words are not enough’ not until it is your life, spared by the grace and will of God – saved by willing hearts, cool heads and strong hands of brother officers. It does not matter what uniform is worn, jurisdiction or rank, it truly is a family of like souls who take personally any affront to another officer and a family willing to risk themselves for one another.
‘Thank you’ is inadequate to describe the gift you gave me – but sharing the responsibility and understanding the call of what we do every day. I know in my heart that each of you will understand the feelings behind the words which are all that I can offer. I will recover. I will return to work and I know that I will be in the presence of four heroes in my law enforcement family. I know words cannot describe the action of these heroes, but may God bless them, and I am truly indebted to them for their selfless, heroic actions."