Two Whitley County Sheriff’s deputies and a Whitley County constable, who had received the Medal of Honor from the Kentucky Sheriff’s Association for bravery in the line of duty, were recognized Tuesday during the regular meeting of the Whitley County Fiscal Court.
Deputies Brian Hensley and Jonas Saunders along with Constable Ron “Bubba” Bowling received plaques from the fiscal court.
The incident for which Saunders and Bowling were recognized occurred on Sept. 26, 2015.
Saunders was responding to a 911 call that 77-year-old David Christian of Lot Mud Creek Road was at his residence and threatening to commit suicide.
Saunders and Bowling responded to the residence located approximately 12 miles south of Williamsburg.
Saunders and Bowling made contact with Christian, speaking to him through a window in an effort to deescalate the situation.
Efforts to calm him were interrupted when he received a phone call and became even more emotional. Saunders and
Bowling listened while Christian yelled at the caller with abusive language. Suddenly they were alerted by a very strong smell of gasoline.
Fearing Christian was actually going to attempt suicide by setting himself ablaze, Saunders and Bowling took action and forced entry into the residence through a patio door. The room that they entered was on fire and filled with smoke.
They located Christian in a closet, and his clothing was on fire. He had to be forcibly removed from the residence. Even though he was combative and aggressive toward the officers, they managed to extinguish the flames. Whitley Co. EMS transported him to a nearby hospital.
Hensley’s award stemmed from an incident on Sept. 2, 2013, when he was with the Knox County Sheriff’s Department and was called to a residence in the Gray community in response to a complaint of a domestic dispute.
Upon arrival, Hensley spoke with Hazel Hibbard, who stated that her boyfiend, Jeffrey Frump, arrived at the residence intoxicated and upset. While she had not been struck, Hensley said Frump had grabbed her by the arm and shoved her out of the residence.
Hensley added that Frump had a knife in his possession and was possibly suicidal.
Hibbard told police that Frump may have a knife in his possession and was reportedly suicidal. Hibbard and the neighbors were then asked to leave the area for their protection.
Hensley spoke to Frump through a door. Frump cursed at Hensley and refused to open the door.
Hensley then heard a gunshot from within the residence. Fearing the worst and believing Frump may be in need of medical attention or had committed suicide, Hensley kicked open the door, only to find Frump behind a couch with a gun pointed at Hensley.
Hensley jumped behind the doorframe for cover.
Frump shot at him through the door striking both legs. The projectile passed through one leg and then struck the other.
Fearing he would be shot again, Hensley jumped over the porch railing, and a second bullet struck his handheld radio, causing it to come off of his duty belt.
Hensley fractured his left wrist and was temporarily unconscious from the jump. Without radio access, Hensley yelled toward Hibbard and the neighbors, asking them to call 911 and report that a deputy had been shot and was in need of backup.
Hensley was able to rise to his knees and observed Frump exiting the residence with a gun pointed in his direction.
Hensley then fired three shots toward Frump striking him all three times, resulting in Frump’s death.
After Hensley observed Frump fall back into the house, he limped to his cruiser and radioed for EMS and law enforcement assistance.
“We really feel like to get that kind of state recognition for our county is very impressive,” said Whitley County Judge-executive Pat White Jr. as the awards were presented to the men. “The stories of what I have heard of what you officers have endured to achieve that sort of recognition really deserved local recognition as well.”
“We appreciate you and the sheriff (Colan Harrell),” White added. “We are very aware that all three of you risked your lives in the line of duty to try to serve the citizens of Whitley County.”
In other business the court:
• Approved a resolution pertaining to an amendment to the interlocal agreement creating the Unified Police Protection System.
Harrell said this agreement will allow Whitley County deputies to cross county lines to serve warrants and to provide backup to those law enforcement agencies in the event of a disaster or other emergency. More than 50 county agencies have approved the agreement.
“Right now, if we have a subpoena or warrant in Knox County, we have to get a trooper or someone in that county with authority to go with us,” Harrell explained. “Now we can just go on and do it. Of course, the rules are that we notify them that we are there.”
• Authorized the judge-executive to accept donation of 13 acres of property from Howard Jackson for the construction of a river access point on the Cumberland River. The new location will be near the intersection of Ky. 92 and Ky. 904.
White said that a marker will be placed at the site denoting Jackson’s donation.
White said the site will need minimal work and should be open and ready by the end of the year.
“It will be place where you can put in a small boat or kayak or canoe, or go fishing,” White explained.