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Locals’ story spurs acts of kindness

Sometimes, heroic actions are overlooked but that has not been the case for Pike County resident and retired Griffin fire chief Rick Rickerson. As a civilian, he saved a woman from dying in a car wreck near the intersection of Highway 109 and McCard Lake Road in 2017. He wasn’t honored for his actions but instead jailed for not moving his vehicle immediately when a Georgia State Patrol officer demanded he leave the side of Rebecca ‘Becca’ Buchanan who was struggling to breathe.

Rickerson said he was clearing the blood from her airway so she wouldn’t suffocate and refused. The truck was moved by a bystander but Rickerson had to watch the lifeflight helicopter lift off with Becca inside from the back of a patrol car as he was arrested for obstruction of an officer.

His heroics were appreciated by more than just Becca and her family when Atlanta TV stations aired photos and 911 calls from the rescue as well as Rick taking roses to Becca when he was released from jail. The DA’s office dropped the charges against Rick shortly afterward.

“He saved my life,” said Becca. “And I’ll tell you one reward he has is my friendship forever.”

Rick said the only reward he needed was to see smiles on her face and her daughter who was 5 years old at the time of the wreck. The crash paralyzed Becca and she was left in a wheelchair.

Rick and his wife Carla continued to be a positive presence in their life, visiting her in the hospital and then celebrating Becca’s and her daughter’s birthdays and the anniversary of the wreck and even holidays. Last summer, the couple was discussing buying a pontoon boat using the money they had saved up but decided instead to buy a wheelchair accessible van for Becca and her family. Not having an accessible vehicle meant Becca was unable to go to her daughter’s basketball games and other important events.

The Rickersons also arranged for other good samaritans – including Gralon Head of Quality Paving in Barnesville – to pave her driveway so she could safely get from her home to the road after they found out she had fallen out of her wheelchair trying to leave the house.

The story was covered for TV news by Brendan Keefe and then it went viral as more than 55 million people across the globe watched a TikTok video about the life saving and life changing acts of the Rickersons.

“I’ve gotten messages from people all over the world who say they have been inspired by this story,” said Rick. “So many have reached out to say they were encouraged by this and that’s what life’s all about – encouraging others.”

This June, Rick, Carla and Becca were invited by 11 Alive’s Brendan Keefe to a reception at the Hyatt in Atlanta for an awards program where Brendan had been nominated for an Emmy award for his coverage of the handicap accessible van donation. The Rickersons got Becca a hotel room and drove her to the event and when Brendan won the Emmy for covering the story, he gave the Emmy to Becca. He gave the Rickersons the Emmy he had earned in 2019 for covering the original story.

The Rickersons finally got their boat when Tim and Tara Kenney of Concord gave them one. The boat had its maiden voyage this Father’s Day as Rick’s son Josh Rickerson took him to West Point Lake.

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