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Recent college grad saves life of Bertie County Sheriff’s Deputy

LEWISTON-WOODVILLE – Dajour “DY” Keemer was just a few minutes away from his predetermined destination here on Dec. 31.

With his girlfriend and cousin as passengers, Keemer was traveling from Elizabeth City, from where he had graduated from college just a few weeks earlier, en route to his native Bertie County to ring in the new year with family and friends.

Dajour “DY” Keemer is shown here during his December 2020 graduation from Elizabeth City State University. Contributed Photo

Those festive plans, however, were temporarily delayed as Keemer was faced with a life-or-death situation that unfolded before eyes.

Although he shunned the title, Keemer is today being hailed as a hero by many individuals after the 22-year-old man was able to save the life of a Bertie County Sheriff’s Deputy who was involved in a single-vehicle accident that caused the lawman’s car to erupt in flames.

That deputy, Brandon Halloran, is recovering from multiple injuries at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville. Halloran suffered a broken ankle, fractured femur, and a fracture of the skull in the wreck that occurred on NC 308 just east of Lewiston-Woodville.

However, the medical outcome of that mishap could have been worse, much worse, if Keemer had not been in the right place at just the right time.

Bertie Sheriff John Holley said that Halloran was responding to a call for assistance at the time of the 7:30 p.m. accident. Holley stated that the weather – heavy rain, on and off most of the day – apparently played a role in the accident, one where Halloran’s squad car traveled off the road and struck some trees.

That’s exactly what Keemer said he witnessed.

“It happened about 100 yards in front of me,” said Keemer, who added he was just west of the intersection of Jack Branch Road and NC 308 at that time. “A car was heading towards Windsor on 308; it suddenly stopped and then I saw the blue lights come on. The driver did a three-point turn and was headed back towards Lewiston-Woodville, but then the car suddenly shot off the road to the right and into some trees.”

Keemer stopped at the accident scene and exited his vehicle. He said he told his girlfriend to remain in the car and call 9-1-1.

“I ran over to the deputy’s car; he said he was hurting and could barely move,” Keemer recalled. “I reached in and pulled him out of the car. We kind’a stumbled into the ditch and that’s when deputy’s car caught fire. Then, me, my little cousin [Rashid Lee], and a lady, who had also stopped to help, moved the deputy out of the ditch to the road. We stayed there until the rescue squad got there along with other police officers.”

Keemer admitted to being fearful of what might happen to him physically if the deputy’s car, which was emitting smoke when he first approached it, had exploded while he was reaching in to help the law enforcement officer.

“Yes, the fear was there, but I couldn’t let this man die on my watch,” he stressed. “I was the one who chose to stop. It’s kind of like I was saying to myself, hey, I’m here; I’m responsible to help.

“I couldn’t let this man burn to death….I took a chance that everything would turn out okay and it all worked out,” Keemer added.

He said someone from Halloran’s family called him the next day, offering their thanks for his actions as well as giving him a medical update on the injured deputy.

“They told me that the doctor said the deputy has about six months of recovery time ahead of him,” said Keemer.

When asked how he would respond if ever faced with the same situation, Keemer didn’t hesitate by saying, “I would do the same thing.

“This is how I was raised; my parents [Tanya Jennings and

Donnell Thompson] raised me to always help others,” he added.

The efforts of Keemer and the others involved in saving the deputy’s life didn’t go unnoticed by Bertie County officials. At the Jan. 4 scheduled meeting of the county’s Board of Commissioners, chairwoman Tammy Lee publicly thanked those heroes.

“I spoke with three of them by phone the next day and thanked them personally,” Lee said. “From what I have been told, the deputy would have been consumed by the fire had it not been for their heroic efforts. It’s good to know there are still good people in the world. It seems we only hear of the bad.”

Keemer is a 2017 graduate of Bertie High School. He completed his work as a Business Education major at Elizabeth City State University and graduated last month. A couple of months earlier he opened his first-ever business – The Keemers Property, LLC, a real estate company in Elizabeth City.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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