When Sandy Callis’s vehicle landed in icy water off a northeastern Forsyth County road last month, she didn’t know how much, if any, help would come her way.
During a Forsyth County commission meeting Thursday night, she was able to publicly thank the family, sheriff’s deputies and fire and emergency medical personnel who came to her rescue.
The commission honored the group with a resolution.
“There’s no way to thank you for everything you guys have done,” Callis said. “I thank you from the bottom of my heart for every sacrifice you made.”
Callis, 41, was hospitalized March 2 after being pulled from a creek near Keith Bridge Road and Cantrell Circle.
The Gainesville woman's 2005 Buick LaCrosse ended upside down in the water, trapping her inside for about 30 minutes.
Authorities said Callis swerved to avoid an oncoming vehicle that crossed into her lane. The wheels slid on the ice and snow-covered shoulder, causing the Buick to overturn and slide into the creek.
Cheryl Riddle and her family live near the creek where Callis crashed. Riddle’s husband called 911 and she got in the water with Callis.
Riddle, an assistant principal at Little Mill Middle School, waited with Callis in the cold creek and supported her head to keep it out of the water until help arrived.
“When I first went out there, I saw toys floating and I think I just jumped in the water,” Riddle said. “My adrenaline and my previous experiences kicked in.”
Riddle said she kept asking Callis questions and slipped her purse under her head to support it. Callis handed Riddle her phone and asked her to call her husband.
“I did step out and called her husband and let him know what happened, then I went back in,” Riddle said.
Forsyth County Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Seabolt and Sgt. Kenneth Yarbrough arrived and tended to Callis until more help could arrive.
Seabolt supported her head and talked with her while they waited.
He and Yarbrough were awarded medals of valor Wednesday during a ceremony at the sheriff’s north precinct.
Yarbrough said the honor was unexpected.
“It was a group effort with the family, the firefighters, the paramedics, everybody involved,” Yarbrough said.
Firefighters arrived not long after Seabolt and Yarbrough and used tools to remove Callis from her vehicle and the water.
Fire Lt. John Weisgerber said he and others were pleased to be recognized by the commission for their part in the rescue.
“But it’s our job, we enjoy doing it and that’s what we get paid to do,” he said.
Weisgerber said when firefighters first saw Callis’s overturned vehicle, “we thought the worst.”
“She is very lucky,” he said.