ROANOKE RAPIDS — A Northampton County deputy nearly killed in a crash while on duty wants to personally thank the off-duty police officer from Virginia who saved his life.
Deputy Michael Sledge ran under a tractor-trailer carrying plywood on Interstate 95 as he responded to an emergency call on March 20. He was knocked unconscious and had a broken left hip and right knee.
But off-duty Emporia, Va., Police officer Jerome Parker saw the wreck. The wreck looked so awful, that Parker's first reaction was the officer inside had to be dead.
"I was blessed — because looking back at the crash, it was bad," Sledge told the Daily Herald of Roanoke Rapids .
But as Parker got closer, he saw Sledge survived. The off-duty officer used Sledge's radio to call for help as he noticed a fire spreading from under the hood of the cruiser.
"I started pulling and tugging trying to get him out," Parker said.
With the help of another man, Parker managed to get Sledge out of the car. They moved him twice as the fire spread. Parker's clothes ended up soaked in Sledge's blood. Sledge survived and was taken to a hospital. Sledge hasn't seen him since, but hopes to be able to visit and thank him soon.
Parker said he has appreciated the recognition for his deed. "I go to calls like that all the time," he said. "I take things for granted sometimes."
Sledge was released from a hospital in Greenville on Thursday. Member of the community are raising money to help pay for the nights Sledge's family spent in a hotel as he recovered.
State troopers continue to investigate the wreck.