Cherokee County SRO, Spring Garden student credited with saving girl’s life at football game

SPRING GARDEN — The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office handed out two awards Friday after a deputy and a high school student saved a girl’s life during a football game Aug. 26.

Cherokee County Sheriff Jeff Shaver presented the awards to Deputy and SRO Jamie Parris and Spring Garden Grade 12 student Aubrey Sadler.

The game between Spring Garden and Coosa was going like any other Friday night. That is, until half-time, when 15-year-old football manager Lillian Thacker had a medical emergency. She was running out of the locker room when she suddenly passed out and fell to the ground. The next thing she knew she was in an ambulance heading to the hospital.

It was what happened between the fall and Thacker’s awakening that earned Parris and Sadler special recognition Friday as the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office met on the same football field.

In recounting the incident, Sadler said she was returning from the concession stand at halftime when she saw Thacker lying face down on the sideline. She quickly sprang into action and went to get help. Fortunately, she found Deputy Parris.

Parris said at first he thought he was called in to break up a fight, but what he saw next was not what he expected.

“I ran there, rolled [Thacker] more, and her lips were blue,” Parris said. “She wasn’t responding and I didn’t feel a pulse.”

Parris performed CPR on Thacker and noticed his color starting to return. Her pulse also returned quickly, although she remained unconscious. Parris continued to help until emergency services arrived and took Thacker to the hospital.

Upon receiving his award on Friday, Parris said he was humble and he said he was just doing his job that night.

“I really wasn’t thinking; I just addressed the situation,” Parris explained. “I haven’t given it much thought… It makes me proud, but it’s just another day. I would do it for any of my kids here, and I’m glad I was there. I don’t I don’t feel like I did something special, but I’m glad she’s okay.”

Sheriff Shaver said it was important to recognize his deputy and Sadler.

“They deserve it,” Shaver said. “They are doing a great job. Jamie is doing a great job and you are placed where you are supposed to be.”

“That’s huge for a kid who’s a senior at our school,” Spring Garden principal Brian Clowdis said of Sadler. “Jump over a fence and check on a kid, jump over a fence and go get someone, it’s crazy to me to even think a high school kid can do that. By Jamie and Aubrey doing what they did , she’s here now, and it’s just awesome.”

Sadler also said she didn’t have time to think about when the incident happened and felt like she was doing what she had to do.

“I think it’s really big,” Sadler said. “I didn’t expect this. Every time I did what I did, it was just instinct. I didn’t think it was like this massive deal. I think anyone would have seen it would have done the same thing because I wasn’t just going to leave her there.”

MPs at Friday’s awards ceremony told Sadler she had the skills to make a good officer and should consider joining the force one day.

“My dad wouldn’t let me be a cop!” cried Sadler.

Thacker had previously survived brain cancer when she was in third grade. Now 10th, she said Sadler and Parris really saved her life.

“I’m very grateful,” Thacker said with a smile. “I wouldn’t be here without them.”

Thacker spent the night in the hospital but is fine now.

In fact, Parris said he was happy to see her when she walked back down the hall at Spring Garden High School.

“Her first day back at school, she came up to me and gave me a hug and said thank you,” Parris recalled. “She and her mom also made me a gift basket with sweets… She’s a great kid. Now I see her in the hallway every day and I get a kick out of it.”

Thacker said she felt stronger after everything she had been through.

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