An Effingham County Sheriff’s deputy was seriously injured Friday morning after his patrol car flipped and crashed into a ditch on Midland Road.
According to the ECSO, Deputy Alvin Anthony Cantrell was responding to a fire call around 10 a.m. when a car in front of him on Midland Road abruptly stopped. Cantrell swerved onto the shoulder of the road to avoid the car, but his car flipped and landed upside-down in a ditch.
Cantrell was trapped in his car for more than 30 minutes until fire crews cut him out, according to ECSO spokesman Detective David Ehsanipoor. He had multiple injuries, but was able to talk to investigators on the scene.
“He was entrapped, but he was also alert and knew what was going on,” Ehsanipoor said.
Cantrell was air lifted to Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah, where he remains with serious injuries. He is alert and conscious, Ehsanipoor said.
“When it’s one of your own, it always hits closer to home,” Ehsanipoor said.
“This could’ve turned out much worse,” Sheriff Jimmy McDuffie said. “The deputy’s injuries are serious, but he’s alive.”
Cantrell is a K-9 officer, and his dog “J.O.” also was injured in the wreck. The dog was taken to Webb’s Animal Hospital and is being treated for injuries that are not life-threatening, according to the ECSO.
The Georgia State Patrol cited the driver of the other car, Rhett Cash of Rincon, for failure to yield to an emergency vehicle. Protocol is for the State Patrol to investigate any crash involving a deputy.
Sgt. Brian Mundy, the head of the ECSO’s Traffic Enforcement Unit, credited the rollover cage in the patrol car with protecting Cantrell from suffering worse injuries. He said the metal dog cage in the back seat also likely helped protect both Cantrell and J.O.
McDuffie said Cantrell had his car’s siren and flashing lights on as he drove south on Midland Road toward Highway 30, and Cash apparently “just froze in the middle of the road.”
“Georgia law says, upon approach of an emergency vehicle, you immediately pull to the right shoulder of the road and stop — and it just doesn’t happen,” McDuffie said. “I don’t know what else it’s going to take (for drivers to do that).”