EDITOR’S NOTE: Regular BLADE® readers will remember the story about the author, Edmund Davidson, on page 10 of the February 2021 issue detailing how he narrowly hung on to beat the COVID virus. It was several months before that he had learned of the heroics of Virginia police officer Corey Wood in rescuing two young girls from a most harrowing accident, an accident that could have cost them their lives if not for Officer Wood’s sound thinking and quick action.
To salute Wood for his performance above and beyond the call of duty, on behalf of the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, the author presented him the SAR Life Saving Medal and certificate on Aug. 6, 2020.
After the author told us of the presentation, we suggested he make a special knife for the officer, too, which the author did and which appears herein.
Following is the story of how Officer Wood saved the day for the two youngsters, and preserved for them what we all can only hope will be most rewarding futures.
This is the story of 1½-year-old Violet and 5½-year-old Gracie. In what seemed like a routine car ride with their mom, returning home late at night was no big deal—until the ride took an unexpected turn.
It was 12:06 a.m. June 8, 2020, when their mom’s cell phone last pinged the Craigsville, Virginia, tower a mere nine miles from their destination. However, they did not arrive.
At about 4:30 that afternoon, Officer Corey Wood was returning home from an administrative day and turned on his television. The news reported that a Craigsville family was missing. At the time Corey did not know of the family, so he called the Augusta County Sheriff’s Office for more information.
When he was told the family’s last name, he said he knew the grandmother and that family members were good people and not prone to unusual acts. After Corey learned of the last cell phone tower ping south of North Mountain on Route 42, he took it upon himself to look for them.
He drove his police car a few miles past the last ping and started his search. He parked the car and walked a quarter mile up one side of the road looking for anything unusual, then walked back on the other side doing the same thing. Corey did this quite a few times where there was no good visibility off the road.
When he got to Augusta Springs, he parked his car and, while talking to his mother via cellphone, walked to look at an area of heavy brush.
At 7:34 p.m. he told his mom he had to go, that the sun was reflecting off something deep in heavy underbrush 20 feet below the road’s surface. He noticed bark knocked off a locust tree and grass mashed down.
Without hesitation, he carefully descended into the heavy vegetation and undergrowth and discovered the missing family in their wrecked car.
Luckily the rear window had been blown out as a result of the impact, fully to pry open the damaged door, he finally had to use his issued ASP baton as a pry bar to gain access.
He found her anxious to exit the scene—but her safety latch was jammed. He worked hard to loosen it and with a great deal of effort finally got the latch to release. Corey checked Violet for physical injuries and, finding none, cradled her in his arm and proceeded to climb the steep bank to the road. That’s when tragedy nearly struck.
Fatigue was sapping his strength. He slipped and fell backward in a twisting motion, landing on his back so as to protect Violet from the fall, knocking his wind out.
Taking about a minute to compose himself, he resumed his climb, this time making it to safety with the baby, where first responders awaited her arrival.
Corey said he made the descent and ascent about 15 times while assisting in the recovery of the vehicle. Tragically, the mother of the two beautiful children was not wearing her seat belt and did not survive the crash.
Gracie and Violet were taken to the hospital, where they were cared for and found to have suffered no physical injuries, a testament to the importance of child safety seats. Both girls had been trapped inside the car for over 18 hours, with temperatures near 90° F.
If not for Corey’s instincts and dedication to preserving life, plus taking on a one-man search-and-rescue mission with no one else around, Gracie and Violet might not have survived.
It is with great pride that we, the members of the General Daniel Morgan Chapter, the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, presented Officer Corey Wood with the SAR Life Saving Medal, along with the Life Saving Certificate.