HEBER-OVERGAARD — In the early morning of Aug. 6, a Sheriff’s Auxiliary Volunteer (SAV), John Lewis, on his way home from an overnight crime scene duty heard over the radio that an accident occurred on Highway 260. Thinking if his fellow volunteers on patrol, he went to check the situation. When he arrived, he found a truck and tractor overturned on the highway spilling fuel across the road creating a hazardous materials condition. After getting basic information from a citizen who had stopped to help, he jumped into action and closed the highway down securing the scene and protecting other drivers from getting hurt until the fire department and Sheriff’s deputy arrived.
During the initial report of the accident to the Navajo County Sheriff Dispatch, he was told to take control of the scene. John Lewis was the only authority available at that moment. The nearest deputy was 15 minutes away which meant he was going to be by himself for a while. Only thinking of safety of other drivers on the road Lewis was able to make sure everyone was ok and shut down the road going both ways. He was able to use the help of a citizen that stopped to halt traffic going east bound while he secured west bound traffic.
Lewis had just graduated from the Sheriff Auxiliary Academy July 23. Using the skills he learned at the academy, he was able to assess the situation and organize the scene.
As he was safeguarding traffic going westbound down the hill, he saw another tractor trailer speeding in his direction. He immediately, but safely positioned himself to warn the truck driver to stop using methods he learned in academy. Luckily the driver was able to stop his 40-ton vehicle just in time. The driver later said that if he had not seen Lewis’ warning that several lives could have been lost.
The Sheriff Auxiliary Volunteers are a non-profit organization that supports the Navajo County Sheriff’s office. Volunteers attend a two-week academy and train for various situations. They provide a wide range of services ranging from house watches, security for community events, welfare checks, clerical as well as other tasks that the Sheriff’s office needs performed.
“SAV’s are a presence in the community that we like here on the mountain,” said a citizen in Heber. She goes on to say that “it brings a sense of security” that no other place she had lived provided. Citizens often stop SAV’s during their house watch routes and thank them for volunteering in the community. In addition, Sheriff Clouse is able to utilize the volunteers for a multitude of tasks. Sheriff Clouse stated, “I am very appreciative to Mr. Lewis and the SAV organization for the services they provide to our communities. This is another great example of the selfless service they give to the public.”
Looking back at the situation, Lewis said, “It was like my training automatically kicked in and I was instantly able to handle the situation.” He also goes on to say that he is very glad that he was trained by NCSO.
Being a Sheriff Auxiliary Volunteer is a very “satisfying job,” said Lewis. “ He encourages other citizens to volunteer with him. For information on how to become a Sheriff Auxiliary, Contact the navajo County Sheriff’s Office.