NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN/WJHL) – On this anniversary of 9/11, the heroism and sacrifice of Tennessee first responders was honored in Nashville on Wednesday.
Among them was Bristol Police Department dispatcher Jessica Donihe, who helped police officers locate a woman in distress by persistently calling the woman’s cell phone after the first call lost connection. The woman had hanged herself, but officers arrived in time to cut her free and get medical attention for her, saving her life.
Another first responder honored was the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) case agent in charge of one of the state’s worst mass murders when eight people were killed last April in Sumner County.
“I am accepting this for our agency because there were a lot of people out there that day,” said agent Andrew Graves after the ceremony at Tennessee’s Executive Residence.
Graves added the award is also “for the people who continue to work (on the case).”
In an even more somber part of the ceremony, family members of Tennessee law enforcement officers who died on duty received what is called the state’s Three Star Award.
Among them was Sgt. Steve Hinkle of the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office who was shot on February 23 while attempting to conduct a welfare check at a Blountville residence. He died three days later.
Another honor went to the mother of Nashville police officer John R. Anderson, who died on July 4 while on his way to assist another officer.
“Its an ongoing loss that we feel every day,” said Officer Anderson’s step-father Danny Hein. “But being part of a community like this where there are sacrifices every day being made here and across the nation–makes it somewhat tolerable.”
In all five members of Tennessee law enforcement were given the Three Star award posthumously.
24 other first responders were honored for their heroism.
The idea of the first responders’ ceremony came from a bill sponsored by Knoxville state lawmaker Becky Massey.