The heroic Bainbridge Public Safety Officer that saved several lives while off duty will be honored by the Bainbridge City Council tonight.
Officer Akins heroic efforts saved the lives of nine people after he witnessed a single vehicle accident on his way to church last Sunday afternoon.
Around 2:20pm on Sunday afternoon, off-duty Bainbridge Public Safety Officer Leroy Akins was headed north and about to cross into Miller County on Highway 27. He was on his way to a special function at his church when he looked to the left and saw a cloud of dust coming from the opposite side of the highway. He slowed down to get a better look and noticed a woman standing on the side of the road waving her arms. He couldn’t tell what had happened but he knew it couldn’t be good so he proceeded to the next turn-around and then headed back southbound. As he approached, he saw a one-vehicle accident and heard people yelling and crying coming from inside of a badly damaged church van. The woman who had waved him down had been driving behind the van and witnessed it run off the road, first hitting the grassy median on the left side and then crossing back over two lanes before veering off the right side of the highway, flipping, crashing through a fence, and landing right-side up on the edge of a cornfield. The woman told Akins, sporting his Sunday suit and bow-tie, that she tried to get into the van but couldn’t because the doors were damaged so badly.After calling 911 to report the accident, Akins jumped into action. First he pried open the front passenger side door and began surveying the condition of the nine elderly occupants, most of whom had landed twisted and upside down on the floor of the van, or wedged under one of several seats. Afraid that a fire may break out, Akins kicked the front passenger seat until it broke and then laid it flat, which allowed him to move the cut and bleeding victims out through the passenger side door. He quickly and systematically removed the passengers one by one, placing them safely away from the side of the busy highway. Surprisingly, Akins said only a couple of cars stopped to lend a hand at the scene of this horrific accident. Just as the last victim was moved to safety, emergency vehicles from Miller County and Decatur County, as well as Georgia State Patrol, began arriving on the scene. Victims were treated for their injuries and miraculously, even though Lifeflight was called to transport one of the badly injured occupants, no one had been killed. Akins learned that the driver of the van, which was headed back to Tallahassee after attending a church service in Colquitt, had fallen asleep at the wheel.Once emergency personnel were on scene and attending to the injured, Akins decided to go on to church with a blood-stained suit and dirty hands because, “Those people needed prayer and the people at my church could pray for them.” About being a hero, Akins humbly said, “It’s my job to serve and protect, whether on-duty or off-duty. I just did what I knew I had to do.”