In February, Naomi Osborne was having a pretty bad day, a day made worse by the unexpected break down of her car. Osborne recalled that day, however, with a positive feeling of thankfulness for some local law enforcement members who helped her during her time of need.
Just before the snowstorm that wreaked havoc in the area in mid-February, Osborne was on her way to Winston-Salem after her mother’s health condition severely worsened and she was being transferred from Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital in Elkin to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem. It was late in the evening and dark when Osborne’s car broke down.
A truck stopped to help her and it turned out to be Weston Parks, an off-duty police officer from Boonville and son of Yadkinville Police Chief Tim Parks. Weston identified himself as an off-duty officer, but when a second man got out of the vehicle it made Osborne a little nervous. She laughed at herself and admitted she watches a lot of crime shows on TV but being nervous about the situation, she returned to her vehicle and kept driving while calling 911. She was told by dispatchers that the officer already had called in for assistance and two deputies from the Yadkin County Sheriff’s Office were sent to help her.
“I’m sure I was the joke of the week,” Osborne said with a laugh.
Parks said that stopping to help a woman broken down on the side of the road was really a part of his duty whether or not he was officially on duty.
“I would think any good-hearted person would stop, but definitely as a public servant it is our job, even if off duty,” Parks said. “Thats what makes my job worth it, to know I helped somebody and thats why I went in to law enforcement, to help somebody and make their life a little easier if possible.”
Sgt. M. Brannon and Deputy I. Moran of the Yadkin County Sheriff’s Office also came out to assist Osborne and told her that they were afraid her car wouldn’t make it safely into Winston-Salem. The officers helped her call a tow truck to come get her vehicle.
Then, much to her surprise, dispatcher Heather Brannon offered to drive her to the hospital. By this point, it was after midnight and Osborne just couldn’t believe that Brannon was willing to assist her in such a way, especially after getting off work at such a late hour.
Osborne offered to pay Brannon, but she refused to accept it. She said when she started looking in her purse for some money, Brannon realized what she was doing.
“She said she would be insulted, she wouldn’t take a dime,” Osborne said. “For the dispatcher to get off work at 12 o’clock at night and then take me to Winston, I just couldn’t believe it. I sent them all a thank you note and I have been telling every one the story.”
Brannon, however, was quick to brush off any special recognition for what she did.
“I didn’t do anything special,” she said. “That’s just the way people should be. The lady needed to be with her mama and that was more important than me going home and laying down my head. I couldn’t have gone home and laid my head down to sleep when I knew she needed help.”
After losing her own mother three years ago, Brannon said she knows how important that time is and just wanted to make sure that Osborne was able to be with her mother.
“That time is special,” Brannon said.
Despite her critical health situation, Osborne’s mother, Molly Dobson, is now recovering in a rehab center and expected to be able to return home soon. Brannon was extremely happy to hear the news that Osborne’s mother was doing much better.
Sheriff Ricky Oliver said, “As sheriff I’m proud to have employees that are dedicated and that have the citizens’ best interest in mind.”
Most of all, Osborne wanted a chance to remind her fellow citizens of the important job that local law enforcement agents do.
“It’s just that a lot of times we get a ticket and we get mad at the police, but we were speeding and they have to do their job,” Osborne said. “A lot of people don’t know that they’re human and they have a heart and they made sure I was OK and safe. I just want people to know that they help and they went beyond the call of duty to help me that night.”
Kitsey E. Burns may be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter @RippleReporterK.