It was a good day. A special day. I was scheduled to speak at morning devotion and was looking forward to sharing a Scripture with the AFA family.
It was foggy that morning as I pulled out of my driveway at about 6:30. As I merged onto the busy freeway, the fog grew even thicker.
I was less than five minutes into my drive when the vehicle next to me abruptly moved toward my lane. Inches from colliding, I reflexively veered to the left.
I suddenly knew what the term “lost control of the vehicle” meant! Turning the steering wheel accomplished absolutely nothing. As if in slow motion, the car zigzagged from lane to lane before swerving into the median.
As I entered the median and headed directly toward the cable barrier, a calm came over me, and I heard a still, small voice instruct, “Turn slightly to the right.” I did.
With each impact of wheel-to-safety barrier, the car was guided back toward the freeway and came to a standstill on a bridge halfway between the shoulder and left lane. The axle was destroyed. Moving the car was not an option.
I quickly turned on my hazard lights and called 911 as cars zoomed around me through the fog at 70-80+ miles per hour. As I explained my dangerous predicament to the dispatcher, she cautioned me to remain in the car.
I called a coworker who prayed with me while I waited for the police to arrive. That 15-minute wait felt like a lifetime. Horns blew and the car shook with each passing vehicle.
When the officer got there, he exuded kindness, concern, and immediately moved into action to slow the whizzing vehicles and get me to safety. Though the dispatcher had strongly advised me to remain in the vehicle, the officer on the scene put himself in harm’s way to rescue me, to ensure I was safe and cared for.
He stood on the shoulder and redirected the traffic away from the left lane to make a way for me to exit the car and lessen the degree of danger as I stood in the median and waited for transportation.
Police officers do this kind of work every day. It doesn’t necessarily involve someone pointing a gun or a high-speed chase. But, still, imminent danger is present. I felt the threat as I waited in my car.
I didn’t choose to put myself at risk. But he did.
According to FBI statistics, 93 law enforcement officers were killed in line-of-duty incidents in 2020. Of these deaths, 46 officers (average age 39) died as a result of a criminal act, and 47 (average age 40) were killed in an accident while working.
Of the officers killed by a criminal act, the following are the circumstances he or she encountered upon arrival at the scene that led to his or her death:
- 9 were ambushed (entrapment/premeditation)
- 7 died as a result of investigative or law enforcement activities
Drug-related matters (2)
Handling a person with a mental illness (2)
Conducting a traffic violation stop (1)
Conducting a high-risk traffic stop (1)
Investigating a motor vehicle crash (1)
- 7 were assisting other law enforcement officers
Deploying tire deflation devices (2)
High-risk traffic stop (1)
Officer down (requiring emergency assistance) (1)
Vehicular pursuit (1)
Emergency assistance circumstance (not a pursuit) (1)
Nonemergency circumstance (1)
- 5 were responding to crimes in progress
Shooting/shots being fired (not “active shooter” situation) (2)
Category titled “other crime against property” (2)
- 4 were responding to disorders or disturbances
Domestic disturbance (family quarrel, no assault) (3)
Domestic violence call (1)
- 3 were involved in arrest situations
Attempting to restrain/control/handcuff the offender(s) (2)
Providing verbal instructions to the offender (1)
- 2 were responding to citizen complaints
Traffic complaint (1)
Verbal complaint regarding a noncriminal violation (1)
- 2 were involved in tactical situations serving/attempting to serve an arrest warrant
- 2 had encountered or were assisting a person experiencing an emotional disturbance
- 2 were killed during an unprovoked attack
- 1 was serving/attempting to serve court order (eviction notice, subpoena, etc.)
- 1 was assisting a motorist
- 1 was killed in an incident reported in the category of “other”
And, of the 47 officers killed accidentally, the following scenarios applied:
- 26 died as a result of motor vehicle crashes
While operating cars, SUVs, trucks, or vans (24)
While operating an ATV or a motorcycle (2)
- 12 were pedestrian officers struck by vehicles
- 5 were firearm-related incidents
- 2 drowned during rescue operations
- 1 died in an aircraft crash
- 1 died in a fall
Police offers put themselves in risky situations on a regular basis. And they do it for you and for me.
What started out as a special day was an exceptional day for an entirely different reason. That officer was used by God to rescue me from a dire situation. He risked his life to save mine.
That kind of conduct is worth celebrating! Please join millions this Sunday, June 13th as we all join hands to pray and express appreciation for these extraordinary heroes!
For ideas on how to do so, click here.