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Forsyth County Sheriff’s office honors personnel for bravery
Chief Deputy Grady Sanford, left, presents from left, Deputy First Class Tom McCullagh, Deputy First Class Drue Green, and Lt. Scotty Spriggs with a Medal of Valor. - photo by Jim Dean

Many were honored recently for bravery in the face of danger during the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office awards ceremony held last week at First Redeemer Church in Cumming.

One man used commendable investigative techniques to track down stolen items. Another helped save a freezing man from dying in the cold. Yet another deputy arrived at the scene of a nearly-fatal wreck and applied a tourniquet to an injured man to save his life.

Other acts of bravery included the rescue of a man pinned between two vehicles and the rescue of another person trapped in a burning car.

Purple Heart awards went to two different men for separate incidents, and medals of honor were bestowed for helping rescue a deputy who’d been shot while negotiating with an armed man.

According to information provided by the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office as part of the awards ceremony, on July 16, deputies were dispatched to Aikens Way for a domestic violence call. It was reported that a male threatened to kill his girlfriend with a firearm. The female was able to escape from the residence and call for assistance.

“Upon arrival, deputies demonstrated teamwork as they surrounded and contained the suspect to the residence,” the report from the sheriff’s office stated. “They utilized a patrol vehicle as cover and attempted to make contact via the PA system. As a member of the crisis negotiation team, Deputy Jon Beival responded to the call and attempted to communicate with the suspect on the PA system. Without provocation, the suspect opened fire on the deputies with an AK-47.”

The suspect fired over 70 rounds from within the house. Deputy Beival was struck in the right leg by the suspect.

At the ceremony last week, he received a Purple Heart from the sheriff’s office.

For helping rescue Beival and getting him out of danger, Lt. Scotty Spriggs, Lt. Brent Weeks and Deputy First Class Drue Green received medals of honor. 

Deputy First Class Tom McCullagh, Deputy First Class Drue Green, and Lt. Scotty Spriggs received medals of honor.

During the incident, Weeks and Green arrived on the scene and returned fire into the residence.

Upon learning that Deputy Beival was injured, Green “immediately began to apply a tourniquet to Deputy Beival’s leg. Lt. Spriggs placed himself in harm’s way, disregarding his own safety and ran to Deputy Beival’s location. Lt. Spriggs helped Deputy Beival get to a safe area and drove him to the hospital,” the report stated.

Others honored during the ceremony last week included Deputy First Class Jonathan Amos, who responded to a theft at a business on Daves Creek Sept. 6. After looking at the video and canvassing the location for clues, he located a set of all terrain tire tracks he suspected belonged to a four- wheeler. 

He followed the tracks through the front lawn of the business to the roadway and the driveway of a nearby address where he made contact with three individuals. 

Within minutes after obtaining the homeowners’ consent to look on the property, Amos had located the items taken from the business. The items were later returned to the victim and at the end of his shift, one subject was taken into custody and warrants were pending for others. Amos brought closure to the case.

A “Life Saving Award” went to Deputies Brandon Keenan and Bob Abanto. While on patrol during a snow storm on Dec. 9, Abanto located a man crawling in the snow on the shoulder of the roadway. 

The male was dressed only in sweat clothes that were soaked from the snow. The male’s skin was discolored and he could not move his extremities. He was shaking uncontrollably and unable to communicate due to the level of distress he was in.

Keenan arrived and they worked together to warm him. They continued to treat the man until EMS personnel arrived in the snowy conditions.

“If not for their actions,” the report stated, “it is very easy to conclude that this citizen would have died due to the exposure to the elements.”

Amos received another award for saving a man’s life April 8, 2017, when he encountered a serious motorcycle accident on Hwy. 306, just north of Martin Road.

Jones called the accident in and advised that the motorcycle operator was severely injured. He retrieved his medical bag and placed a tourniquet on the operator’s right leg. Medical personnel later stated that the placement of the tourniquet saved the motorcycle operator’s life.

For another instance of saving a life, Deputy First Class Guy Velia, Deputy first Class Mike Jones and Cpl. Kevin Mitchell were honored.

On Nov. 7, the trio responded to 530 Lakeland Plaza for a medical call where a wrecker driver had been pinned between a vehicle and the tow truck. Velia, Jones and Mitchell lifted the vehicle off the individual and a doctor on scene performed CPR.

Deputy First Class Michael Eaton also earned a life-saving award, as did Sgt. Martin White.

White responded with his recruit Deputy Catlin Tomalka to a wreck, in which a motorcycle operator suffered an amputated right leg as a result of the crash.

White obtained a tourniquet and applied it to the victim’s leg, stopping the bleeding. It was made known by the medical staff at the hospital that the application of the tourniquet that stopped the bleeding saved the motorcycle operators life.

Finally, a Purple Heart Award was given to Deputy First Class Rod Reeves, who on Nov. 18 had just finished a traffic stop on Ga. 400 near the Majors Road bridge. He heard about an impaired motorist traveling on Ga. 400.

He pulled over on the shoulder of Ga. 400 near Exit 13 and began observing traffic to see if he could spot the lookout vehicle. While Reeves was observing traffic, the violator slammed into the back of his marked patrol car. 

His car was struck at a high rate of speed, and he was trapped inside. Forsyth County Fire Department arrived and worked quickly to get him out of the vehicle.

Over the next few days, weeks and months, Reeves would undergo numerous surgeries and as of this date, he is still recovering from his injuries and has only recently begun physical therapy.