GAFFNEY, S.C. (WSPA) – A Gaffney police officer is returning to duty after risking his life to help save a brother in blue.
“I just like helping people, first and foremost. That’s why I got into this profession to begin with,” Officer Michael Blanton said. “I wanted to be able to assist the public and give back to the public.”
Blanton has been an officer with the Gaffney Police Department for three years, and he told 7 News he knows he’s exactly where he’s supposed to be – but what happened a week ago is something he said he never quite expected.
“It initially came out as a call for a suspicious vehicle,” Blanton said. “The vehicle was stopped at a stop sign, and several people attempted to get the driver’s attention – unsuccessfully.”
Blanton responded to the intersection of Wilcox Avenue and Boiling Springs Highway, and when he did, he recognized the man inside the reported suspicious vehicle as a Spartanburg County deputy. That’s when he knew something must’ve been wrong.
“At that point, it kind of kicked in, ‘Hey, I know this guy!’ I was out with him earlier, working,” Blanton said.
Blanton tried to get the deputy’s attention, but nothing worked.
“I repeatedly knocked on the window to no avail,” he said.
Blanton told 7 News the deputy was having a diabetic episode, and his foot slipped off the brake and onto the gas pedal.
That’s when the truck ran into a guardrail on a bridge overlooking Interstate 85.
“I knew, at that point, if I didn’t do something to get in front of that car, he was either going to wind up in I-85 or in someone’s house on the other side of the bridge,” Blanton said.
Blanton jumped in his car and drove it in front of the deputy’s, allowing the deputy to crash into the side of his patrol car so that he’d come to a stop.
Blanton then worked to get the deputy out of the vehicle.
“An EMS worker and I both got out. The EMS worker cracked the bottom of the glass, but whatever he was attempting to break glass with wasn’t working fast enough, so I got my flashlight to bust it out the rest of the way. The flashlight wasn’t working fast enough, so I just put my whole arm through the window,” he said.
Blanton told 7 News he didn’t think much of it – he was just doing his job.
“I’m an ordinary citizen put in an extraordinary situation,” he said. “I’d want somebody to do the same thing for me if I was going through a similar issue.”
The Gaffney police chief plans to present Blanton with an award for his heroic actions.