BOSSIER CITY, La. (KTAL/KMSS) — The Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office presented two Life-Saving Awards to two deputies whose quick actions saved the lives of two men earlier this year.
According to BPSO, Sheriff Julian Whittington presented the awards to Deputy John McClain and Deputy Jeri Ebarb at the agency’s 2020 Christmas Banquet. McClain’s saved the life of a man who was nearly hit by a train in Bossier City, and Ebarb saved the life of a family friend who was suffering from a heart attack.
BPSO says on Friday, June 26 around 6:30 a.m., McClain was heading north of Barksdale Boulevard in his personal car when he noticed a train was headed in the same direction. McClain says he began to think about how someone committed suicide by train a couple of months before.
“I was going about 45 miles per hour and I was able to pass the train which I think was going about 35 miles per hour,” McClain recalled.
“I think that played a part in being in me being extra observant about the train tracks and people trying to do that.”
When McClain approached the traffic lights near Cascio’s Food Mart, which is about a quarter-mile from I-20, he noticed a young man sitting near the tracks. He was facing the train, and it headed north parallel to Barksdale Blvd. McClain could not actually see if the man was actually on the tracks, but what he saw was enough to alert him. McClain, who recently graduated from the police academy at the time, says his training kicked in.
The deputy parked his truck on the side of the road, put his flashers on, and immediately got out of the truck and headed over to talk with the young man, who was sitting in the middle of the train tracks.
“I tried talking to him, but he didn’t respond,” said McClain.
“I had only had like three to five seconds to act, so I grabbed him by his armpits and just pulled him out of the way of the train.”
Within seconds, the KCS train passed them both. McClain took the man to his home nearby and contacted the Bossier City Police Department to report the incident.
“His actions may have surprised him, but they did not surprise me,” said Captain Sarah Rhodes, BPSTA director.
“He has been a standup person since day one of training. And I believe I’m not even sure that John McClain would have acted any differently had he not been in law enforcement.”
McClain says his heart was racing and that he was nervous that he wasn’t going to beat the train. The image of what could have happened he says was not a pretty sight. He was just glad he was in the right place at the right time to save a man’s life.
“Just very thankful to God I was there in time to help him,” said McClain.
BPSO says on Monday, June 29 at 10:00 p.m, Deputy Jeri Ebarb, the wife of Dep. Greb Ebarb and a nurse fro the Willis Knighton Health System, was called to her mother’s home on Lake Bistineau to take the blood pressure of her mother’s boyfriend, Carl Williams.
Williams says at the time, he wasn’t feeling particularly well.
“I was sweating, I couldn’t sleep, and my heart was palpitating,” said Williams. Ebarb who lives six doors down, drove to her mother’s home expecting only to check his blood pressure and his vitals. But all that changed when she took one look at him.
“When I got to the house, I looked at Carl, and I immediately told him to get into the car, I am taking you to the hospital,” Ebarb exclaimed.
The deputy put Williams into her car and headed north on Highway 71. She was taking him to the emergency room at Willis Knighton Pierremont, the closest hospital in the area. While heading to the hospital, Mr. Williams had his first heart attack in the car, and Ebabrs says that is when her training kicked in.
“All I can do in that moment while I was driving was to beat on his chest while I drove to the hospital,” said Ebarb.
Knowing she was too far away to get him to hospital in time, Ebarb stopped at the safest place possible to get some help. She pulled into the parking lot of Red River South Travel Center. Three men from the store got Williams out of the car and onto the ground where Ebarb began to administer CPR. She says they took turns giving Williams chest compressions for the next 20-30 minutes until EMS arrived.
“She kept me alive and I am indebted to her for the rest of my life,” said Mr. Williams.
Wiliams says the thing he remembers from that night is Ebarb telling him to get into the car to go to the hospital, fidgeting with the seatbelt and air vent in the car.
“I guess I died in the car because when I woke up the next day in the hospital the doctor told me it is a miracle that I’m still alive. I do not remember Jeri or the men giving me CPR. I guess that’s why my chest is sore, but I’m not complaining.” W
Wiliams says he believes without Dep. Ebarb’s quick action and the help of the other men that he would not be here today.
After EMS arrived Mr. Williams coded again in the ambulance, but they had further equipment to save his life. Mr. Williams was evaluated later that month by doctors to see the next level of treatment he will need.