Salute the Badge: Couple says deputy went extra mile after life-saving encounter

LAWRENCE, Kan. (WIBW) - Sarah and Devin Wilson have a busy life in Overbrook. She's worked as a certified nursing assistant; he has a job at Hill's; and they have seven children between them.

Douglas Co. Sheriff's Deputy Jared Ellis has kids at home, too. He also has three years behind the wheel of a patrol car.

Their lives intersected the early morning of April 23rd, on Highway 59 south of Lawrence.

The Wilsons were headed home from a movie. Sarah said Devin commented he couldn't see, which she thought was because of the oncoming car lights.

"All of a sudden, he turned the wheel and stiffened out and hit the cement bridge," Sarah recalls. "As I was talking to 911, I had been pulling him out of the car because he wasn't breathing and I started chest compressions."

Meantime, Deputy Ellis got the call to respond to a medical emergency.

"When I pulled up on scene, I saw Sarah doing chest compressions on Devin in the median," he said. "I immediately grabbed my AED."

It was a welcome sight for Sarah, who says she was quickly tiring.

"It was a huge relief because I saw a couple of cars drive by and nobody stopped and I thought, 'Nobody's gonna help us!'" she said.

Deputy Ellis waited for the AED to give the command, and delivered the shock.

"As soon as I shocked Devin, he took a raspirated breath and he had a faint pulse, so. you know, hope kind of kicked in and I just kept doing what I was doing, chest compressions until the medics arrived on scene," he said.

But it's what happened next that has the Wilsons especially grateful to Deputy Ellis. Rather than clear the scene and go home, he followed Sarah to the Lawrence hospital; listened in to relay information from the medical staff; and when they learned Devin had to be life-flighted, he offered a lift.

"He drove me to KU Med because my car got a little damaged and then, when we got to KU Med, of course this hospital is huge, so he helped find out where my husband was and got me to the room," Sarah said.

Just 30-years old, Devin had an irregular heartbeat that sent him into cardiac arrest. Doctors implanted a defibrillator, and, in the weeks that followed, Deputy Ellis continued to check in on the family.

Weeks later, he was thrilled to finally shake Devin's hand.

"It was amazing him to see him standing there and have a conversation with him," Ellis said.

For his part, Devin doesn't have much to add to the story from that night.

"I don't remember leaving the house to go to the movie!" he jokes.

But he knows full well it could have had a different ending, if not for the weapon Deputy Ellis had - not on his hip, but in his back seat.

"He's the reason why I'm here," Devin said. "If it wasn't for the AED and him being able to set it up real fast and get it going, I probably wouldn't be here today."

While Deputy Ellis called Sarah the real hero for her efforts in starting CPR, she disagrees.

"He is a hero," she said. "He went above and beyond what he was supposed to do."

Deputy Ellis disagrees.

"It's being a human being," he said. "It's helping somebody that you know needs help. This is what makes my job. This is what makes me happy."