Despite knowing the situation posed a potential risk to his life, Albany County Sheriff’s Office Corporal Jeremy Huston acted quickly to save a woman in crisis on Interstate 80 earlier this spring.
Albany County Sheriff Dave O’Malley awarded Huston with the Life Saving Award May 21 for his quick thinking and action during the incident. Huston told the Boomerang a few days later he was “kind of surprised” to receive the award.
“It was a great honor,” he said. “I count it as a blessing that I was able to be in the area and get the job done.”
Towards the end of his shift on a “beautiful, quiet Sunday,” in early May, Huston said he was dispatched about six blocks away from his location to 15th Street and Skyline Drive, near an overpass across Interstate 80. Dispatchers said a woman there was indicating she was going to harm herself.
He quickly went to the scene, where he saw a woman looking “visibly very distraught, crying and in some type of distress.” Then, he said, she appeared to “beeline towards traffic.”
“In my head at that point, I knew I had very little time to try to intervene,” he said.
Huston said he approached the woman and tried to talk with her, but “she really wasn’t having it.” She appeared to have made up her mind as to what she was going to do; as he tried to converse with her, she continued walking backward toward the busy interstate — and oncoming traffic.
“At that point, it was decision-making time for me on what I was going to do,” he said. “I noticed there was a pretty good opportunity because there was a break in traffic, and I was able to restrain her … and hold her there until other units arrived.”
While fairly confident in his abilities and training as a law enforcement officer, he admitted outcomes in these kinds of situations are not easy to predict. The inherent risk to the job, he said, is “kind of what you sign up for.”
“Unfortunately, these types of calls are pretty commonplace in our job, and you don’t always have a happy ending,” he said.
Not wanting to consider himself a hero, he said he was glad he was able to contribute to a story with a happy ending and he hoped he made “a positive impact and difference,” not only with the woman but with motorists on the interstate as well.
“There’s a lot of traffic on the interstate, and it only takes a fraction of a second for something to go horribly wrong,” he said.
After growing up in a small town in western Nebraska and spending some time in the Army, Huston said he wanted to join law enforcement after remembering the positive impact law enforcement had on him as a child. Now, he’s hoping to impact his community in a similar way.
“Honestly it means a lot to me,” he said. “I live here, my family lives here, my kids go to school here. Knowing the community has my back, I’m working every day to make sure I uphold the trust.”
Without community trust and support in law enforcement, he said, a tough job can become “even tougher.”
Huston happened to be in the right place at the right time to take the call and stop the woman from running into oncoming traffic, he said, and he wouldn’t be the only one to make that choice.
“I know any other deputies, officers, troopers, anybody I work with would’ve done the same thing if given the opportunity,” he said.