Five teens in Auburn, Washington, have received the civilian honor of a lifetime after stepping into harm’s way to protect a police officer in need.
According to a release on King County’s Facebook page, Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht earlier this week handed down the Sheriff’s “Medal of Heroism” Award for only the second time since it was introduced as a way to “honor community members who do extraordinary things.”
The recipients were 16-year-old Darrell Swilley, 17-year-old Isaiha Sansaver, 19-year-old Dominic Sansaver, and 18-year-olds Tyran Powell and Kai Tavares, who on July 18 intervened to stop a suspected drunk driver‘s potentially life-threatening attack on a lone officer.
The officer, identified only as Deputy Elliott, was not on duty at the time of the incident, according to a report by KCPQ-TV.
“We cannot thank these five young men enough for coming to Deputy Elliott’s rescue. They quite possibly saved her life,” the department wrote on Facebook shortly after the incident.
“Moms and Dads, you should be proud of these kids!”
The King County Sheriff’s Office said Elliott was driving home from work in her marked patrol vehicle at approximately 1 a.m. on July 18 when she was flagged down at the scene of a multiple-car pileup in the city of Auburn.
Stopping to help ensure the health of all the citizens involved in the wreck, Elliott eventually intervened as a seemingly intoxicated man allegedly responsible for the crash began walking away from the scene.
The deputy detained the suspect but was placed in a chokehold by him shortly after calling for backup on her radio.
“Suddenly, the suspect wrapped his arms around Deputy Elliott’s neck, put her in a headlock and began squeezing,” the department said. “She struggled to get out of the hold but thankfully did not lose consciousness.”
It was then that Elliott reported hearing “several men’s voices yelling ‘get off of her’ ” before she was freed by the five local teens and aided in subduing the suspect for arrest.
The deputy suffered only scrapes and bruising as a result of the altercation.
The suspected drunk driver was processed in the jail at the Auburn Police Department and has been charged with one count of felony assault of an officer and another for driving under the influence.
He was also had several warrants out for his arrest, which included another driving under the influence charge and others for vehicle safety compliance violations and driving on a suspended license.
The five good Samaritans in large part responsible for bringing the man to justice were presented their medals on Aug. 3 in an official ceremony put on by Johanknecht and Auburn Police Chief Daniel O’Neill.
“We can’t thank these fine young men enough,” the department reiterated on social media the following day, posting photographs from the award ceremony.
“They are true heroes.”