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Deputy saves choking child's life

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Sheriff's Deputy Joseph Bowen proudly displays the Medal of Valor he received from his boss, Sheriff Robert Bowen, at Monday night's Wilson County Commission meeting. Bowen saved the life of a choking fourth-grader at Byars Dowdy Elementary. JOHN BUTWELL

Bowen receives Sheriff's Medal of Valor

Wilson County has a special hero all its own, Sheriff's Deputy Joseph Bowen. While he was acting as a School Resource Officer (SRO) in early September, he saved the life of a fourth grade student - and he was honored for his quick action at Monday night's Wilson County Commission meeting.

Bowen was substituting for the regular SRO at Byars Dowdy Elementary during an evening of parent conferences when a teacher brought the child to the front of the school "in obvious distress," Principal Becky Sievers told the commission.

The teacher told Sievers that the child had a piece of candy stuck in her throat. Her face was turning blue. She couldn't breathe.

Bowen, like all Wilson County sheriff's deputies, has taken the required CPR and first aid training, so he knew what to do.

Administers Heimlich

He administered the Heimlich maneuver to bring the candy out of the fourth-grader's windpipe, allowing her to start breathing again. The school nurse was off duty at the time since it was after regular school hours.

Although there was some concern at the time that the girl might have been bruised or injured by the lifesaving hug, according to Sievers, she is doing just fine.

Sievers, who also represents District 1 on the county commission and chairs the commission's Steering Committee, sponsored the proclamation that honored Bowen for his service at Monday night's commission meeting.

"You're my hero," she told him as she handed him the proclamation that had just been unanimously approved by the commission.

Then Bowen's boss, Sheriff Robert Bryan, presented him with the Wilson County Sheriff's Department Medal of Valor for his actions.

The proclamation was also sponsored by Sheriff Bryan and District 15 Commissioner Mike Justice, who chairs the commission's Law Enforcement Committee.

Earlier this month, Bowen was also presented with a Meritorious Citation by the board of Lebanon Special School District (LSSD), which operates Byars Dowdy, for saving the fourth-grader's life.

Writer Connie Esh may be contacted at

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SRO, Student Resource Officer, Wilson County Commission, Wilson County Sheriff's Office
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