Today (January 3, 2024), on the steps of the Washington Parish Court House, a ceremony took place to honor and recognize the exceptional bravery and dedication displayed by an over eight year veteran of the Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office, Sergeant John O’Hern in a life-saving incident that unfolded on the evening of September 13, 2023. The event marked a remarkable day as Sergeant O'Hern was presented with the Life Saving Award for his courageous actions. He was joined by his wife, Lacie, and their two children, Zoe and Mason, Sheriff Randy “Country” Seal, as well as several colleagues from the WPSO and Franklinton Police Department.
On that fateful evening, at the intersection of Highway 10 and Highway 25, the lives of three individuals were hanging in the balance following an automobile accident. The vehicle was overturned and partially submerged in water, its occupants trapped inside, facing a terrible situation with time running out.
Sergeant John O'Hern arrived at the scene in response to a distressing dispatch. His commitment to public safety and his immediate response to the emergency were truly commendable. Although faced with the challenge of reaching the individuals trapped in the back seat, Sergeant O'Hern's determination remained steady.
It was during this critical moment that Officers Johnathan Leche and Sergeant Trey Johnson from the Franklinton Police Department arrived at the scene. Together, they were confronted with an incredibly challenging task - to free the occupants from the overturned and submerged vehicle. Recognizing that the front door was not an option, they demonstrated teamwork and determination.
Through their collective efforts, the officers managed to lift the vehicle just enough for Officer Leche to enter and extract the two individuals from the back seat. But their heroism didn't end there. Discovering that one more person remained trapped inside the vehicle, they persisted in their rescue efforts. After significant exertion to right the overturned vehicle, Officer Leche successfully accessed the last victim and brought him to safety.
The heroic actions of Sergeant John O'Hern, Officer Johnathan Leche, and Sergeant Trey Johnson unquestionably saved the lives of two of the three individuals who were facing imminent danger. Their selflessness and courage in the face of danger serve as an inspiration to us all, highlighting the essence of public service and sacrifice.
As we present this Life Saving Award to Sergeant John O'Hern, let us not only applaud his bravery but also recognize the profound impact his actions have on our community. The Washington Parish community is incredibly fortunate to have such a dedicated and fearless individual serving and protecting us. It's important to note that Sergeant Johnson and Officer Leche have already received their Life Saving Awards at a separate ceremony held in November 2023.
“It is crucial to remember that our law enforcement officers are not just guardians of our safety, but they are everyday heroes who put their lives on the line to protect and save ours. The courage displayed by these officers on that September evening is a testament to their unwavering commitment to public safety, setting a shining example of what it means to be a true hero. We extend our heartfelt thanks to them for their service and salute their selfless dedication to our community. Today, we also take a moment to remember and honor the life of Bobby Harriel, a 44-year-old resident of Ruth, Mississippi, whose life was tragically lost in this accident,” stated Sheriff Seal.