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Tribute to a Palmetto hero

It was an occasion to honor a real hero who put his life on the line and came so close to giving his last full measure of devotion. The occasion was the Georgia Police Memorial Ride ceremony last Saturday in Peachtree City. The hero was Palmetto Police Sgt. Lee Gragg.

The procession for the Georgia Police Memorial Ride began at the state Capitol and made its way in the pouring rain to Falcon Field in Peachtree City shortly after noon. The event was designed to honor Georgia’s 600 fallen officers, five of whom died in the past year. The ride and ceremony was sponsored by Chapter 7 of the Blue Knights International Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club.

The ceremony at Falcon Field was also a time to honor Palmetto Police Sgt. Lee Gragg, who was severely injured in a life-threatening incident on Sept. 12, 2009.

Gragg’s family stood by him on the podium as he was awarded a citation and a tribute for his service to the community that nearly cost him his life. Also standing on the podium was Palmetto Deputy Chief John Cooper who, like the other officers on the force, stood by his colleague during the life-threatening ordeal.

On Sept. 12, 2009, three Palmetto officers were conducting a road safety check when they encountered a driver without a license. Sgt. Gragg, the traffic stop supervisor, was called over to investigate further. As he approached the convertible, he noticed the driver was on his cell phone and asked him to end his call multiple times. The driver ignored his requests and, instead, revved his engine.

Sgt. Gragg acted quickly. He reached inside the vehicle in an attempt to subdue to the driver, but was instead thrown off-balance and into the back of the convertible as the driver sped off. Three hundred yards later, the fleeing driver crashed into a brick mailbox, which flipped the car and killed him instantly. Sgt. Gragg was ejected from the vehicle and thrown 20 feet in the air. He broke his back, seventeen bones in his face and jaw, suffered a brain injury and lost his left eye as a result.

Remarkably, after four months of recovery, Sgt. Gragg returned to light police duty.

Those interested still have time to vote for Gragg in the America’s Most Wanted All-Star Contest. He is one of eight national finalists chosen by citizens across the United States.

Members of the public may vote for their favorite first responder once a day, every day through May 3. For more information on voting visit http://www.amw.com/allstar

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Joyce Beverly's picture

Every one of us has a story

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