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Cook County Sheriff Doug Hanks presents the Sheriff’s Lifesaver Award to Deputy Collin Teegardin: Deputy honored for saving woman from fiery wreck

Cook County Sheriff Doug Hanks has presented a Sheriff’s Lifesaver Award to Deputy Collin Teegardin for his heroic actions in rescuing a woman who was trapped in a wrecked truck, seconds before the vehicle burst into flames.

According to the award and other information from the Sheriff’s Office, at about 11:54 a.m. Feb. 12, 2024, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office was notified about a traffic accident in rainy conditions around the Cook and Tift County line on Interstate 75. A passing motorist stopped with Deputy Teegardin, who was already out attending to an unrelated accident, and reported an additional accident north of where the deputy was located. Teegardin left the scene he was at in the care of the Georgia State Patrol and proceeded to check on the new report.

Deputy Teegardin found the accident around the 54 Mile Marker Northbound, inside of Tift County (near the Eldorado exit). 

Upon arrival, the deputy discovered a 2019 Ford F-150 pickup had struck an unoccupied semi tractor while it was parked on the east emergency lane, causing extensive damage to the truck. (The semi tractor apparently had broken down.) The deputy ran up to the vehicle. Teegardin also noted visible black smoke emitting from the truck.

The deputy found the doors to the pickup were locked, and he immediately began trying  to gain entry into the vehicle by striking the driver’s side window with his expandable baton. He was yelling out to ask if anybody was inside. 

Deputy Teegardin was only successful in making a small hole due to the tint covering applied to the window, but with this hole, he was able to ascertain that there were occupants in the vehicle.

A passing motorist attempted to put out a growing fire in the engine compartment with a small fire extinguisher, but it was ineffective.  

“Teegardin then, with disregard for his own safety, began striking the window with his fist until he was able to cause enough damage to remove the window,” the award states. He felt he didn’t have enough time to get back to his patrol vehicle for tools. 

Meanwhile, a female victim inside was yelling, “Help! Get this door open!” 

Once entry was made, the deputy discovered the driver was deceased from the accident, but his female passenger was visibly injured in the back seat. Teegardin successfully pulled the woman from the vehicle to safety and then returned and removed the driver with help from a Georgia DOT employee who had arrived on the scene.  The vehicle was soon fully engulfed in flames. The truck is believed to have become engulfed only 15 seconds after the occupants were out.

The Tift County Sheriff’s Office and Tift County Fire/Rescue responded to the scene later.

“Deputy Teegardin’s quick and decisive actions exemplify the knowledge and ability needed and expected of a Cook County Sheriff’s Deputy by providing emergency lifesaving actions without regard for his own personal safety,” the award states.

The Cook County Sheriff’s Office deputies are always among the first responders to reach such wreck scenes and help the victims, Sheriff Hanks said. “They do a great job.”

Teegardin’s Axon Body 3 camera recorded the life-saving efforts. 

According to a Georgia State Patrol report, the pickup truck’s driver was Frederick Winn, 61, of Roswell, Ga., and his wife, Sandra Winn, 61, was the passenger. Mr. Winn was pronounced dead at the scene. Mrs. Winn was taken by EMS to Tift Regional Medical Center.

It is unclear what caused the wreck. Apparently, another vehicle attempted to merge into the pickup’s lane, and attempting to avoid the other vehicle, Mr. Winn lost control of his truck as it hydroplaned due to the rain on the roadway and the pickup slammed into the semi tractor.

This is the second time that Teegardin has received the Sheriff’s Lifesaver Award. In 2022, he administered Narcan to a person who had overdosed on drugs in Cecil and saved that life. He received the Lifesaver Award for his response. Also in 2022, he and other deputies administered Narcan and saved another overdose victim on Val-Del Road. The Sheriff’s Office noted other similar actions over Teegardin’s six years with Cook County: In 2019, he received a commendation for putting out a vehicle fire before it became a structure fire that would have endangered a family in their residence on Siska Lane. In 2019, he responded to a vehicle vs. pedestrian accident, used CPR, and resuscitated the victim (who unfortunately eventually passed away). And in 2023, he and other officers revived a heart attack victim on Quillie Jones Road by performing CPR on him.

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