DNR rangers cited for heroism

Published 9:28 am Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Gov. Sonny Perdue recently recognized 12 Georgians for heroism, including two Department of Natural Resources law enforcement rangers that serve Southwest Georgia.

Sgt. Rick Sellars and Cpl. Mike Binion, who both regularly patrol Decatur County, were the recipients of medallions recognizing them as public safety professionals who performed an exceptional deed that resulted in saving lives and/or protecting property.

Sellars and Binion were cited for their rescue of victims during Tropical Storm Fay, which swept across Southwest Georgia on Aug. 23, 2008. That storm also caused the cancellation of the Bainbridge High School Bearcats opening home game against Cairo High School.

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Grady County received more than 24 inches of rainfall from Tropical Storm Fay.

“That evening, at approximately 9:30, a vehicle occupied by three people was swept from the road into a heavily wooded area where the water was more than 6 feet deep and rising. The vehicle became entangled in trees and brush and began to sink. The occupants climbed onto the roof and one of the victims contacted 911 by cell phone,” the nomination letter stated. “While on the phone, they advised that a second vehicle had entered the water, and it too had been swept off the road and into the woods and went out of sight.”

Sellars said Monday that he remembers the waters being extremely fast, and that there was debris he and Binion had to maneuver around. They also had to borrow another agency’s boat because theirs wasn’t the right size.

“Sgt. Sellars and Cpl. Binion arrived at the scene and after a quick survey, they entered the flood-swollen creek,” the letter stated. “Sgt. Sellars utilized exceptional skill maneuvering the boat as Cpl. Binion, with only a flashlight to illuminate their path, directed him through the tangle of debris and trees to the vehicles.”

Sellars and Binion found the victims and brought them safely back to shore where volunteer firefighters provided medical treatment.

“The officers’ experience, training, and most importantly, their willingness to place others before themselves prevented a tragic ending for these five individuals,” the letter stated.

Perdue announced the recipients of the Governor’s Public Safety Awards at a December ceremony in Forsyth.

Sellars’ and Binion’s names will be added to a monument at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center.

“I am proud to honor the heroic acts of Georgia’s courageous public safety servants,” the governor said. “One of the government’s primary responsibilities is to keep the lives of our children and families protected. These 12 individuals have truly answered the call of duty far beyond our expectations.”