On July 28, 2017 Deputy Chris Stafford and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)
Hunter Cunningham had never met. The events that unfolded that day would
change that fact forever. Deputy Stafford, who was off duty at the time, was
traveling on GA 101 in the area of Bud Cole Road when he saw a traffic jam and
what he assumed was a motor vehicle accident. As he got closer to the scene, he
realized that there appeared to be a serious accident and a trailer loaded with hay
that was on fire. Deputy Stafford drove on the wrong side of the roadway to get to
the scene so he could try and assist. Once he got there, he met EMT Cunningham,
also off duty, who was trying to help the injured male motorcyclist. The
motorcyclist had struck the trailer causing the intense fire and was thrown off of the
bike onto the adjacent roadway.

While other citizens watched, Deputy Stafford and EMT Cunningham shielded the
motorcyclist from the exploding tires and flames because they could not move him
due to what they thought was a serious neck or back injury. Deputy Stafford and
EMT Cunningham, even though they were being burned by the flames, held a shirt
over the face and body of the motorcyclist to keep him from inhaling the smoke and
being burnt by the flames.


Photograph from the scene of the accident. Deputy Stafford, EMT Cunningham and the injured motorcyclist can be seen on the far left.

Once EMS and Fire/Rescue arrived on scene they put the fire out and stabilized the
patient so he could be transported to an Atlanta area hospital. Medical professionals later stated that if it were not for the quick action taken by Deputy
Stafford and EMT Cunningham, the male motorcyclist likely would have died.

Sheriff Gulledge awarded Deputy Stafford with the Medal of Merit and EMT
Cunningham with the Citizens Commendation Award for their bravery and
relentless will to serve. The Medal of Merit is the second highest award that can be
obtained at the Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff Gulledge noted, “Men like Chris and
Hunter don’t come along everyday, they are heroes and should be recognized as
such. I am fortunate that Chris is one of my Deputies and that he is willing to
spring into action anytime he is needed. God bless these men and the life that they
saved in the face of adversity on that day in July”

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