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Minden Police Sgt. Reece Tewell receives Life Saving Award

by Minden Press-Herald

His shift had just ended on the evening of Tuesday, January 30, and Minden Police Sgt. Reece Tewell was headed to his home in Sarepta. It was just another workday’s end, another routine drive home. But the routine changed dramatically when his unit’s radio crackled with a 911 alert about 6:22 PM.

Tewell was traveling north on U.S. 371 near Whispering Pines Church when he heard the call that an officer had been seriously injured and was down on the roadway. At the time, he didn’t know the victim was his long-time friend and schoolmate, WPSO Sgt. Aaron Barnes.

“I was near Rice Road and saw the blue lights flashing. I got in a hurry to get there,” Tewell recalled. “When I arrived and saw him [Barnes] on the ground, I knew it was bad…very bad.”  

Barnes had been struck by a vehicle while directing traffic. The impact had thrown him over the hood of a wrecker preparing to leave the scene with a stalled vehicle. The speed limit in the area of the impact is 55 mph, and witnesses would later say the vehicle which struck the deputy did not appear to slow down.

“I saw he was bleeding badly from a huge cut on his rear end, and I knew it had to be attended to right then,” Tewell said. “I retrieved my medical bag and began stuffing the wound with gauze and bleeding suppressant and applying pressure. Everything was really kind of a blur.”

With the items from the medical kit, Tewell managed to stop the blood flow from a four-inch deep, seven-inch long gash until medical help arrived. In addition to that wound, Barnes suffered another serious cut to his forehead, a broken tailbone, broken hip, fractured ankle and road rash.

Tewell said he has had EMT training over the course of more than 16 years as a volunteer firefighter with various departments. He currently is a member of the Sarepta Fire Department.

“When something like this happens, the training just kicks in,” he said. “I knew what to do but this was a little different. I know Aaron and his family, and I remember thinking I had to do whatever it took to get him back to his wife and kids.” 

Sheriff Jason Parker said conversations with emergency medical personnel revealed that Tewell’s quick and efficient actions probably saved Barnes’ life. The closest EMT units were miles away, and time was not on the side of the victim.

“Aaron’s wound was very severe, and he had already lost a lot of blood,” Parker said. “The medical people I talked to said, if Sgt. Tewell had not been there and acted as quickly and efficiently as he did, Aaron would most likely have bled out before they could get there.”

In recognition of his actions on that night, Tewell was honored with a Life Saving Award presented by Parker on behalf of the Webster Parish Sheriff’s Office. In part, the plaque reads, “You put yourself in harm’s way to save another human life with dedication and courage.”

“God put Sgt. Tewell in that place at that time because he knew what to do without hesitation,” Parker said. “I understand he had finished his shift but had stayed over a few minutes. That put him in the right place at the right time for the right reason.”

Minden Chief of Police Jared McIver said Tewell’s action that night reflects the willingness of every officer to come to the aid of another in a crisis.

“There’s tremendous cooperation between agencies in this area,” McIver said. “Any time one agency needs assistance, there’s always another…or as many as needed…ready to help. I’m proud of Sgt. Tewell, and I’m happy to see Sgt. Barnes recovering so well.”

Present for the award was Barnes, who successfully underwent surgery for his extensive injuries and currently is recovering at home. Not surprisingly, he doesn’t remember much about what happened.

“What I do know is that this man saved my life,” Barnes said. “I lost about a fourth of my body’s blood supply before the medical personnel got there. If he hadn’t been there and known just what to do, I wouldn’t have made it.”

Barnes is married and the father of two children: a five-year-old son and an 18-month-old daughter.

“I’m looking forward to getting Reece out to the house, especially to meet my son,” he said. “They’ve never met, but my son knows exactly who he is. He knows he’s the man who made it possible for his daddy to come home.”

Minden Chief of Police Jared McIver; Life Saver Award recipient Sgt. Reece Tewell; WPSO Sgt. Aaron Barnes; Webster Parish Sheriff Jason Parker

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