CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- Five community heroes are being named ‘Citizen of the Year 2019.’ According to the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) ; this award is long overdue.
In the fall of 2016, two CCSO deputies responded to a man walking along Highway 78 in Ladson. The individual was under the influence of drugs at the time and started approaching cars.
“We knew something was wrong so we called 9-1-1 to let them know,” says Ramona Hernandez. She and her husband Francisco pulled off to the side of the road when they saw the deputies attempting to subdue the man.
The man then attacked Deputies Robert Bittner and Levi Reiter; hitting Bittner in the head with one of their batons. At that moment, the deputies were in desperate need of help.
Several civilians stepped in; putting themselves in danger. Hernandez says the act was a no-brainer.
“It’s our brothers in blue. They’re there for us when we need them. Why can’t we do the same?” she says.
Because of the civilian’s efforts, Deputy Robert Bittner and Deputy Levi Reiter are alive today.
Nearly 4 years later, the CCSO awarded Ramona Hernandez, Francisco Hernandez, Kristen Munn, Shawn Kirkland and Michael White ‘Citizen of the Year 2019.’
“It was amazing,” Sheriff Cannon said during the ceremony. “They saved the lives of those two deputies.”
While many say the 5 are heroes, Hernandez doesn’t necessarily agree.
“Honestly I don’t see it as a hero. Like I said, it’s our brothers in blue. That’s our law enforcement. They’re there for us, for our families, emergencies, they risk their lives everyday,” she says.
Ramona and Francisco say they never pass by the spot on Highway 78 without thinking of that day 4 years ago. They hope their story will serve as a reminder to continue “working together as a team to make a difference.”