On Memorial Day weekend, Henderson County Sheriff Deputy Ashley Reed was off duty with her kids when she jumped in without hesitation to ultimately save a woman, who was lying face down in the water at a Gun Barrel City park.
She jumped in using her instincts and quick thinking when she saw the woman having a seizure in the water at Tom Finley Park on May 29.
"I wasn't in police mode. I was more in mommy-mode just cause my kids were out there," Reed said. "Someone would have done it for me, and I would have done it for them. I was just the closest one to them. I just kind of did what I needed to do it to make everyone goes home."
Despite an on-the-job injury, Reed swam, wrapped her arms around the woman and pulled her to shore. While on land, water came out of the woman's mouth and she started breathing.
On Tuesday night, Reed, who has been in law enforcement at the sheriff's office for two years, was honored for her life-saving actions with a plaque from the sheriff's office, a life-saving pin from the Henderson County Fire Chief’s Association, and a certificate of accommodation from the Gun Barrel City Fire Department.
“Deputy Reed has what this job demands – quick thinking, quick acting, and rightly putting a citizen’s needs above her own,” Henderson County Sheriff Botie Hillhouse said. “A life was saved by a public servant willing to risk it all for a citizen."
Reed was shocked to learn others knew about her helping the drowning woman. This past Tuesday, she was asked to provide security at the fire chief's meeting, and that's when she received the awards.
"I don't know her name. I don't where she was from, who she was with. I didn't know anybody knew that I was there, honestly," Reed said. "I didn't know I was getting an award. I didn't know my sheriff knew. I didn't know the fire department was going to recognize me; I had no idea."
Reed said the woman slowly started becoming coherent and her family members were able to help her along with EMS and the Gun Barrel City Fire Department.
"She was laying in my lap when they (EMS and fire) got there," she said.
She still doesn't think she did anything extraordinary that Saturday in the water. She's super appreciative for the recognition and honored for a doing good deed.
"That's just the way that I am; it's the way that I was raised. We always help each other out and we don't ever expect anything in return," she said. "I didn't expect anything like this to happen. I didn't expect to get recognized in any way. It's all just happened pretty quick. I'm grateful for showing the great side of law enforcement and what we do on pretty much a daily basis. Anyone in my department would have done something like that, not just me."
Helping people is the idea that got her interested in becoming a law enforcement officer about two and a half to three years ago.
Reed said she had a baby at 16 and dropped out of school. Later on, her 6-year-old daughter inspired her to finish high school — a task she completed attending night classes at Eustace High.
She was working for the city of Athens wastewater department when she wanted to do something different.
"Right when I got the diploma, I just woke up one morning and you know what I'm going to be a police officer," she said. "I had two weeks to get all my information in and get where I needed to be. It just kind of took off after that. I made the spilt decision that I wanted to help people. I've always wanted to be in uniform as a kid. I love helping people. I figured why not go and help as many people as I can and wear a badge while I'm doing it."
Reed called the sheriff's office and local fire departments her second and third families. In addition to being a deputy, she also volunteers at the Southside Volunteer Fire Department, located just outside of Athens.
"It's not uncommon for us to get a callout in the middle of the night to go help with a fire because some of us are on the departments," she said. "It's like having three families. I've got my home family, my sheriff's office family and then my fire department family. We just keep everybody close."