Right place, rignt time

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 2, 2008

AHOSKIE – Ahoskie Police Officer Stephen White apparently has a knack of being in the right place at the right time when it comes to life-threatening situations.

For the second time within a 12-month period, Sgt. White’s quick action and emergency medical training are being credited with helping to save a life.

His latest heroics came Saturday night where he remained by the side of a gunshot victim, applying pressure to the wound until emergency medical personnel could arrive, according to Ahoskie Police Chief Troy Fitzhugh.

“At the time, Sgt. White was in pursuit of a person he thought was responsible for firing gunshots, but stopped that pursuit upon discovering a person apparently stuck by one of those gunshots,” Chief Fitzhugh said. “Sgt. White had to make a split-second decision and made the right one by rendering aid to the victim.

The victim, whose name was not released, was struck once in the abdomen by an unknown gunman. Chief Fitzhugh said the victim remains in fair condition at Pitt County Memorial Hospital in Greenville.

The incident came on the heels of gunshots reported one night earlier in the First Street area. Due to those reports, Chief Fitzhugh said his department had beefed-up patrols in that section of town.

He said Sgt. White was on routine patrol on First Street after 11 p.m. on Saturday when he heard gunshots as he neared the railroad crossing.

“Sgt. White first heard the gunshots and then noticed what appeared to be muzzle flashes coming from some sort of weapon as he looked towards Hayes Street,” Chief Fitzhugh said. “As he approached the intersection of Hayes and Catherine, he saw a suspect, dressed in all black, running from the area. He pursued that suspect while calling for assistance. As he approached Hayes and Maple, he heard a voice calling for help due to a gunshot wound.”

By stopping to provide assistance, Chief Fitzhugh credited Sgt. White with saving a life.

“I do believe that Sgt. White saved that man’s life,” Chief Fitzhugh stressed. “He has emergency medical training that he put to good use in this incident. I also credit the emergency responders dispatched to the scene as well as the Roanoke-Chowan Hospital staff for their professional help.”

EastCare Air from Pitt Memorial was summoned, but the medical helicopter was unable to fly that night due to the weather. After being treated at R-CH, the victim was transported to Pitt Memorial via an EastCare ground unit.

Chief Fitzhugh said no arrest had yet to be made in the case, but his department was still in the process of investigating any and all leads. He urged anyone with information to contact APD Detective Sgt. Jeremy Roberts at 332-5011.

This isn’t the first time that Sgt. White has been praised for saving a person’s life.

While helping provide security at a Jan. 3, 2007 basketball game at Hertford County High School, Sgt. White observed a group of people rushing to one area of the bleachers. Upon investigating the matter, Sgt. White discovered a four-year-old struggling to breathe. Without hesitation, Sgt. White took the child from an adult and began to perform lifesaving procedures. He was able to determine that the child had a blocked airway and he attempted to dislodge the blockage. Sgt. White summoned assistance from two EMT’s at the game, both employed by Hertford County EMS. Together, they were able to clear the child’s airway and transport him to Roanoke-Chowan Hospital for further medical attention.

For that effort, Sgt. White was awarded the Lifesaving Citation from the Ahoskie Woodmen of the World Lodge #328.