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September 15, 2023

Heroic Actions by Local Law Enforcement Save Lives in Dramatic Water Rescue

The Washington Parish Sheriff's Office reports on an incident that occurred on Wednesday (September 13, 2023) evening during which a group of dedicated law enforcement officers went above and beyond the call of duty to save lives following a harrowing automobile accident. The heroic actions of Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office (WPSO) Sergeant John O’Hern, Franklinton Police Department (FPD) Officer Johnathan Leche and Sergeant Larry Johnson, not only demonstrated their unwavering commitment to public safety but also resulted in the successful rescue of two individuals.

At approximately 7:37 PM Wednesday at the intersection of Highway 10 and Highway 25 near Franklinton, Sergeant John O’Hern responded to a reported single-vehicle accident with injuries.  Sergeant O’Hern was met with a distressing sight – a vehicle overturned and partially submerged in water, its occupants trapped inside. With the clock ticking, he immediately began his rescue efforts.

The individuals were trapped in the back seat of the vehicle, inaccessible from the front door. Sergeant O’Hern persisted in his attempts to reach the victims. FPD Officers Johnathan Leche and Sergeant Larry Johnson arrived at the scene to offer their assistance. Together, the officers faced the task of freeing the occupants from the overturned vehicle. They managed to lift the vehicle just enough for Officer Leche to enter and extract the two individuals from the back seat. As the two victims were safely brought to shore, they informed the officers that one more person remained inside the vehicle. Officer Leche successfully accessed the last victim and brought him out of the vehicle.

The tragic accident claimed the life of Bobby Harriel, a 44-year-old resident of Ruth, Mississippi. Harriel was not wearing a seatbelt at the time and suffered severe injuries in the accident. He was transported to a nearby hospital but succumbed to his injuries. The two passengers in the Nissan were wearing their seatbelts and emerged from the crash without harm.

Officer Leche sustained a laceration to his hand which required immediate medical attention and stitches. 

The heroic actions of WPSO Sergeant John O’Hern, FPD Officer Johnathan Leche, and FPD Sergeant Larry Johnson undoubtedly saved the lives of two of the three individuals facing imminent danger. Their selflessness and unwavering courage in the face of adversity serve as an inspiration to us all. The Washington Parish community is incredibly fortunate to have such dedicated and fearless individuals serving and protecting.

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