Georgia Southern University Department of Public Safety officer Katie Hodges was presented the 2022 Bulloch County Public Safety Officer of the Year on Thursday, November 18, 2022. There were eleven public servants nominated for the award. Each were nominated due to their remarkable and heroic acts of service to our community. It was a tremendously heroic act of courage that saved the life of a 21 year old GS student that helped Officer Hodges become honored with the highest public safety honor given annually.
Officer Hodges rescued a student from a sinking car
Clay Gracen, GS Deputy Chief shared with the audience why the department nominated Officer Hodges. He described the night this event took place and her heroic actions.
While on routine patrol on April 8, 2022, Officer Katie Hodges observed a Chevrolet Trailblazer running in the parking lot of Paulson Stadium. After speaking with the occupants, Officer Hodges determined they were under the influence and unsafe to drive. She made arrangements for a sober driver to come to them and take them home safely. In about 20 minutes the sober driver arrived and left. The trailblazer left the scene as well.
Officer Hodges followed the vehicle and observed it operating safely. However, when the the vehicle approached the T intersection of Malecki Drive and Forest
Drive, it failed to stop and continued across Forest Drive through a grassy area and into a pond. The momentum of the vehicle carried it to the middle of the pond where it began to sink.
Officer Hodges said the car sank so much you could barely see the third brake light on the car. The vehicle was sinking fast and both occupants were still in the vehicle. She began shouting at them to get out of the car. They both were able to get out of the car but the driver was obviously struggling to swim.
“I am a new officer. I haven’t even been on the police force here two years. I didn’t learn how to be a lifeguard in the police academy. It was obvious she was in danger and I had to act. The best way I knew how to help immediately was to rip off my belt and vest and dive in after her. She was apparently too intoxicated to swim back and even struggled to hold on to me. I was able to grab her with one arm and swim back to safety,” said Officer Hodges.
“That was night I knew, when I was able to take a break and catch my breath, that I said to myself, WOW I truly made a difference. I am glad I was there. Many of the other officers told me they didn’t know how I did that. Many of them confessed they could not swim. My sargent told me that he had lost a family member trying to save a drowning person. He was really proud of me, because I could have drown trying to save her.”
Officer Katie Hodges career with GS
Officer Hodges began her career with GS Department of Public Safety in April of 2020. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Biology from GS and is currently enrolled as a full time student working toward a masters degree in Criminology. She is certified through the Law Enforcement Bicycle Association as a Class A Police Bike Patrol Officer and currently serves in the Uniformed Patrol Division and Bike Patrol Division.
Grice Connect salutes officer Hodges along with the other awardees and all of the public servants who give so nobly of their time and talents to protect our community on a daily basis. She and each of them are just plain Grice Good!!
We will publish an additional story recognizing all of the honorees.