PHOTO: (Left to right) Senator Phil Williams, Sheriff Todd Entrekin, Representative Becky Nordgren, Etowah Co. Deputies Andy Reed, Hayden Clements and Tyler Cline, along with Representative Mack Butler. (Contributed Photo | Alabama Senate)
By Staff Reports
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – On Thursday, the Alabama Legislature paused from the rush of the 2018 legislative session to honor three Etowah County Deputy Sheriffs with the Medal of Valor, the law enforcement equivalent of the military’s Medal of Honor.
At a joint session of the State Senate and House of Representatives, Senator Phil Williams (R-Rainbow City) presented the medals to Andy Reed, Hayden Clements and Tyler Cline for conspicuous gallantry above and beyond the call of duty in saving the lives of twenty-two prisoners from a fire at the Etowah County Detention Center on May 26, 2017.
“These brave men exhibited extraordinary courage in putting their lives on the line, and it is a privilege to present them with Medals of Valor,” Williams said. “I commend Deputies Reed, Clements, and Cline for their heroism.”
Natalie Barton, Communications Director for the Etowah County Sheriff’s Office, described the May 6 rescue thusly:
Deputies Reed, Clements and Cline responded to a fire set by Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) detainees in Unit 3 (a maximum-security housing unit). Since 1998, ECDC has served the people of this nation by housing some of the most dangerous Immigration Detainees in the United States.
On this particular day, five Immigration Detainees from Iraq, Cambodia, Vietnam, Nigeria and Mali were plotting what is believed to be an escape attempt. All were violent offenders and in the process of being deported to their native country. Upon the deputies’ arrival, they found the unit to be on fire, saturated with smoke and filled with inmates.
Knowing that this unit housed some of the most dangerous and violent individuals in the Detention Center and that they were outnumbered by three to one, without hesitation, these deputies entered the unit. Unable to see and forced to hold their breath each time, they entered the unit time and time again until all persons were evacuated to a safe area. After ensuring all were safe and the facility was secure, these deputies continued their work, despite suffering from smoke inhalation and exhaustion. Without exception, the bravery shown by these men and their courageous acts that day saved some 22 lives.
“Their quick, professional response and noble actions saved many lives that day,” Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin remarked. “Many think they would have done the same, however, these deputies did not think of themselves but of others. They are heroes, and I am privileged to be their Sheriff.”