Ohio State Highway Patrol honors troopers for saving suspect’s life

Photo by Chad Plauche-Adkins Troopers Reid Phillips and David Handschumacher, along with Sgt. Eric Knowlton, receive certificates of recognition from Capt. Cory Davies Thursday in Marietta.

MARIETTA — Just a few days before Christmas, several local state troopers shared the gift of compassion, providing medical aid to a suspect who had just tried to run them off the road, and potentially saving his life.

On Thursday, those troopers were recognized for their actions.

Lt. Chris Chesar, post commander of the Marietta post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, said he wanted to recognize the efforts of three of his troopers for their ability to not only apply the law but to show the kindness and professionalism that make up the character of an elite law enforcement official.

On Dec. 21, a police chase of a vehicle driven by Thomas Bailey, 54, of Waverly, started in West Virginia then crossed the border into Ohio. Troopers Reid Phillips and David Handschumacher along with Sgt. Eric Knowlton joined the pursuit.

During the chase, Bailey ran into both Phillips and Knowlton, spinning their cars out of control. When the chase ended, the suspect was placed in Handschumacher’s car for transport.

While en route to the county jail, Handschumacher said the suspect began complaining about his chest, saying he had suffered heart attacks in the past.

“He stated he was on a bunch of medication and wanted to go to the hospital,” Handschumacher said.

Knowlton said that requesting medical attention is a ploy used at times by people who are arrested.

“They would rather go to the hospital than to jail,” he said.

“Regardless of if it’s legit or not, you have to go through the procedure and find out if they are all right,” said Handschumacher.

Handschumacher said the suspect’s health did appear to be at risk, so he pulled over his cruiser, and was joined by Phillips and Knowlton in order to administer CPR to the suspect. Handschumacher said the group began providing CPR to Bailey along the side of the road until Bailey gave physical signs that he didn’t require additional resuscitation.

He was then taken to the hospital. Bailey survived the incident and was charged with fleeing with reckless indifference in Wood County. Chesar said charges are still pending in Washington County.

“Can you imagine having someone basically attack you, and then have to save their life?” Chesar asked.

“Law enforcement gets a bad rap for compassion,” said Capt. Cory Davies, district commander of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, before presenting the troopers with their award.

Davies said the actions of the three troopers should help to quell those misconceptions.

Chesar said his troopers showed an incredible amount of both professionalism and empathy dealing with the suspect. He said the ability of the troopers to turn off their emotions after a high speed chase and attempt to administer life saving techniques merited the recognition.

After the troopers received their certificates, Knowlton said the group was proud to be given the award.

“We are very grateful to receive recognition for the efforts we made,” he said.