EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSIN-VEST: PART 2
from Eyewitness News Online
Oak Hill Officers Shot In Line Of Duty Talk About Being Saved By Their Vests
Reported by: Leslie Rubin
Videographer: Troy Morgan
Web Producer: Leslie Rubin
Reported: Nov. 7, 2012 10:35 PM EST
Updated: Nov. 7, 2012 10:56 PM EST
Oak Hill, Fayette , West Virginia
We are continuing our In-Vest initiative here at Eyewitness News, as we work with the West Virginia Sheriffs' Association to outfit police officers with life-saving bulletproof vests.
Our hope in telling you these stories is to inspire you to give back to the men and women who work everyday to keep you and your family safe. The next life they save could be yours.
Welcome to Oak Hill, West Virginia. Population: 8,000. Protected by 14 police officers, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In the last three years, two of them have been shot in the line of duty.
"You just thank God that that officer had his vest on and it was able to save his life and he's able to go home to his family," says Oak Hill Police Chief Michael Whisman.
On March 18, 2010, at 4:15 a.m., Cpl. Chris Young stopped a Cadillac with Ohio license plates on WV Route 16. Before he was even able to get the license plate number, the driver of the car got out and shot him.
"Shot once through my door and the second shot hit me," he says.
Within seconds, Fayette County dispatch gets word that Cpl. Young has been shot. His fiancee, a 911 dispatcher, is the one who gets the call.
She struggles to find the words to explain what that night was like. "We didn't even know at first if he was okay. I didn't even know for sure if he had it on," said Tonja McMullen.
But Cpl. Young was wearing his vest. He only decided to put it on a few hours before that traffic stop. At the time, it wasn't mandatory the department wear their vests. That night, Chief Whisman made some life-saving changes.
"I believe that all officers when they put their uniform on, when they put their gun on, they get in their cruiser, I personally believe they should have their vest on," he says.
On June 13, 2012 at 1:00 a.m., Sgt. Lee Kirk responded to an alarm call at an apartment complex. He got out of the car after noticing a man walking down the road.
"I got out of the vehicle to check on him and before I got to him, he turned and shot," Kirk recalls.
He gets shot in the stomach, but his now mandatory bulletproof vest likely saved his life.
"Did it ever make you think you didn't want to do this anymore?" asked Eyewitness News reporter Leslie Rubin.
"No, you've come this far, why quit now?" he smiles.
A company that makes the vest has donned Kirk save number 1800. A plaque bearing his and Cpl. Young's names hangs in their department.
"We'd like to see that there's not a plaque like this produced again or hung in any department, but the reality is unfortunately these plaques are going to be around," says Chief Whisman.
Oak Hill Police are fortunate to be able to provide vests for their entire department, but many agencies can't afford to do so. That's why we're working with the West Virginia Sheriffs' Association to make sure every officer is as fortunate as Cpl. Chris Young and Sgt. Lee Kirk.
"I would think that it's one of the most worthwhile causes they could give to. When you can actually put something on an officer that can save his life...that's unreal."
We are completely relying on our viewer's help to make In-Vest a success. Together, we can equip the men and women who protect us everyday, with a piece of life-saving equipment.
To donate, you can go to any City National Bank location in the state. Make checks payable to In-Vest.
You can also drop off or mail donations to our Charleston or Huntington studios.
Mail donations to WCHS-TV - In-Vest
1301 Piedmont Rd.
Charleston, WV 25301
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