Salute the Badge: Small-town police chiefs in right place at right time

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Shawnee Co. Sheriff's Sgt. Brad Metz gives thanks every day that his loyal partner of eight years still trots happily at his side.

"I never saw it coming," Metz recalls of what happened the morning of July 11th.

Metz and his K9 Bolt were doing routine traffic monitoring on I70, when a driver suffering a medical issue slammed into their patrol vehicle, which was sitting in the median.

"It knocked me out for a few seconds," Metz said. "When I came to, I heard some whining coming from my back seat of my car and I realized, 'Oh, no. He's still in the backseat.'"

At that moment, coming up I-70 on their way to federal court were Waterville Police Chief Mike Vermetten and Blue Rapids Police Chief Ryan Woodyard.

"It kinda stops you in your tracks for just a second," Vermetten says of the scene.

Woodyard agreed, saying, "We thought the worst."

The pair activated their lights and pulled over - then realized it was one of their own in trouble.

"You feel that it's one of your brothers in blue and you just want to do everything you can to render aide and help him out as quickly as possible," Vermetten said.

Their arrival was a welcome site for Metz.

"(It was a relief) just seeing somebody that knew what to do right away, that sprung into action to help me and to help my dog," he said.

Quick action was vital. The car slammed full speed into the SUV, ending up sitting atop the back seat, collapsing Bolt's protective cage.

"The whole time, the dog's kinda panicked back there because he's hurting and I was probably pretty panicked myself, worrying about getting him out of there," Metz said.

"The most amazing thing was that the dog lived," Woodyard said. "That cage - it was like the size of a shoe box. I thought this dog was little, but when we were able to get it out and walk it to my truck, this dog was huge in a little bitty area!"

Bolt suffered a blown disc, and Metz also had a back injury. Both continue rehab, but are back on the job.

To thank them for their roles in making the good outcome possible, Shawnee Co. Sheriff Herman Jones and Lt. Caleb Acree recently surprised Woodyard and Vermetten with visits to honor them before their city councils.

Woodyard and Vermetten credit the several other drivers who stopped to assist, but say they appreciate having their role recognized.

"It meant a lot to me because this is something we do every day and don't get thanked," Woodyard said.

"You appreciate it a lot and you're thankful that you're recognized for that and you're just glad that, in this situation, we can stand back and talk now that we know everybody is safe," Vermetten added.

Not only are Metz and Bolt all right, the driver of the other vehicle also was okay.

Now, the deputy and his four-legged partner are back on duty, working to ensure the safety of everyone else.

"I just offer them my gratitude," Metz said. "Along with my family, we really appreciate them being in the right place at the right time."