COLUMBUS, Ind. – During the Sheriff’s Merit Board Meeting on Thursday afternoon, Bartholomew County Sheriff Matt Myers presented local residents Johnny R. Smith and Tim Meeks with Medals of Valor in recognition of saving a life and heroism in the face of danger on Christmas Day, 2018.
On December 25, Sgt. Justin Arnholt responded to a single-vehicle crash near County Road 300S and Crossing Lane. Debra Jean Stephens, of Columbus, was traveling east when her vehicle ran off the roadway, thru a chain-link fence and hit an embankment along Interstate 65 before it became engulfed in flames. Passing motorists Smith and Meeks stopped to pull Stephens from her car.
Along with her family members, Stephens attended the awards presentation and thanked her rescuers with handshakes, hugs and a few tears. “Johnny Smith and Tim Meeks, two strangers, immediately went into ‘team effort’ to save Debra’s life,” said Sheriff Myers. “These men make Bartholomew County a better place.”
Myers also read a letter from Sgt. Arnholt praising the men for their heroism.