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Enquirer photo/Clif Knight Hartselle Police Chief Justin Barley, left, presents a Medal of Valor and a Purple Heart Medal to Lt. Linda Fox in recognition of her service beyond the call of duty.

HPD honors officer for life-saving rescue

Hartselle police officer Lt. Linda Fox was singled out for special recognition at a city council meeting Sept. 10 for rescuing a woman who was trapped inside her car in a flooded drainage ditch on West Main Street July 18.

Fox, 49, was awarded a Medal of Valor and Purple Heart Medal by Police Chief Justin  Barley, resolutions from the Alabama Senate and House of Representatives by Representative Scott Stadthagen, a council-approved resolution by Mayor Randy Garrison and a Thin Blue Line afghan from Covering The Line, a law enforcement support organization.

The awards followed a dash cam video in which Fox was shown working under duress

in a 5-ft. deep stream of rushing flood water to reach the car’s trapped driver. After several attempts with a metal punch, she was able to break the driver’s side window and open its door, creating a path to safety. While punching at the window with one hand. she grabbed a traffic sign post and held on to keep from being swept under a covered section of the drainage ditch in front of Byford’s Gun Shop. Ultimately, the driver was pulled from the ditch with the assistance of officer Luke Hogan.

After each presentation, a standing-room-only crowd of fellow officers, family members and friends gave Fox a standing ovation. Afterwards, cake and finger foods were served to the audience. 

“I’m extremely honored and humbled,” said Fox. “I don’t look at what I did as being heroic. Anyone on our force would’ve done the same.”

 

Ms. Brenda Allen, the rescued driver, was among those who attended the council meeting

and praised Fox for  her response to a life-threatening incident. 

“I thought I was going to die when I felt water on my feet” she recalled. “Words can’t express how relieved I was when I saw a police officer coming to help me. Lt. Fox is my hero.”

Fox, the daughter of a retired Birmingham police officer, was patrolling West Main Street in a rainstorm at about 2:42 a.m. when she spotted Allen’s car in the flooded drainage ditch.

“It was raining hard and water was covering the street,” recalled Fox. “ I was checking to see if it was safe to drive on when I saw the car in the ditch. When I go closer I saw a woman in the driver’s seat banging on the window and yelling for help.”

With window punch in hand, Fox entered the water not knowing its depth and was almost swept off her feet by the swift current. Unable to break a window on her first attempt, she left the ditch to reassess her plan of action. 

She re-entered the ditch again and was able to break the glass and open the driver’s side door and help the driver get out. 

Ms. Allen said she was en route to work at Hardee’s when her car left Main and landed in the ditch. 

Fox suffered injuries to her knees and a shoulder during the rescue. She had surgery for a torn labrum and is currently undergoing rehab.

The city council adopted a general fund budget for FY 2019-2000 with anticipated revenues of $12.8 million and expenses of $11.7 million.

The budget provides a two percent cost of living adjustment for employees and a one-step increase for eligible employees. 

Anticipated revenue from alcohol sales is listed at $276,000. Of this amount, $38,000 is earmarked for schools and the remainder will be used to purchase police patrol vehicles and a dump truck for public works.

Mayor Randy Garrison said the budget reflects a year-to-year revenue increase of about four per cent. 

The council acted on other matter as follows:

  • Authorized the mayor to sign a memorandum of understanding agreement with the City School Board for two school resource Officers.
  • Authorized the mayor to sign an agreement with GB Planning & Design to prepare a preliminary design for a connector park linking Earth Park with the Hartselle Farmer’s Market at a cost of $3,600.
  • Introduced a resolution for the construction and placement of an air curtain burner at the city landfill.
  • Approved a budget adjustment request from Parks & Recreation to allow for the 

purchase of a replacement aerifying attachment for $9,977.69

  • Approved a budget adjustment transfer request for paving, patching, sealing and striping parking lots in the central business district at a cost of $43,064.84