Officer Austin Simms (center) receives a Life Saving Award from Shepherdstown Mayor Jim Auxer (left) and Shepherdstown Police Chief Mike King (right).
For the past two decades, September 11 has been a somber day — especially for first responders reflecting on the tragic events of 2001 when many brave men and women answered the call, often at the risk of their own safety.
This past September 11, the Washington County, Maryland E911 dispatch center received a call about a person acting suspiciously on the Rumsey Bridge outside of Shepherdstown. The Jefferson County Sheriff’s deputy who was assigned the call requested assistance from Officer Austin Simms of the Shepherdstown Police Department to effect a faster response to what was thought to be a person attempting to jump from the bridge.
Officer Simms arrived at the bridge at 6:55 pm, 4 minutes after the initial dispatch to the Sheriff’s office. When he arrived, Officer Simms observed a male individual at the midpoint of the bridge, sitting on a small section of concrete support for a light pole outside of the railing. Officer Simms attempted to converse with the individual, but the man was wearing headphones and indicated no response. For the next several minutes, Officer Simms continued his attempts to speak with the individual and gradually moved closer to him.
After approximately 10 minutes, the individual removed his headphones and placed them on the railing, then turned as if to step off into the air. Officer Simms was able to reach over the railing to grab the individual and pull him back over the railing and onto the bridge. A deputy from the Washington County Sheriff’s office arrived shortly thereafter and took the individual to a hospital for medical attention.
Chief Mike King of the Shepherdstown Police Department, described his review of the bodycam footage of the incident, stating, “it’s my belief that Officer Simms used quick thinking and reaction, which saved the life of this individual and kept him from falling to his death. This act by Officer Simms is complimentary of the Shepherdstown Police Department and makes me proud to work with officers like him.”By Staff Contributor