DICKSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – Emergency responders and Governor Bill Lee call him a hero after he put himself in danger to bring others to safety one rainy night in February.
It’s a night that Lt. Travis Plotzer with the Tennessee Highway Patrol won’t forget.
The night brought a deluge of historic rain that created life-threatening situations for residents throughout Dickson County.
“They were trapped in either vehicles or in their homes,” Dickson County Sheriff Jeff Bledsoe said.
Lt. Plotzer typically works with colleagues to patrol highways, but during that night he called Sheriff Bledsoe.
“He asked, ‘Hey, where can I help? I’ve got resources, I’m available,’” Sheriff Bledsoe said.
Lt. Plotzer immediately jumped into action.
“I noticed there’s a car in this general area over here that has somebody on the hood roof area of it, and the fire department is back near where my car is. They’ve got a boat out trying to help retrieve this person,” Plotzer recalled.
He continued, “That’s when I jump in and start helping them. That’s what we do, we work together. Is it something common for us to do? No, that’s what we do when there is a need.”
Plotzer said a short time later he was left alone after first responders and the fire department had to leave, leaving him all alone.
“I’m trying to block the road off as best I could,” he recalled. “I notice there’s a car that comes off this side street. I notice his car becomes disabled and stuck. So, I go in off the highway there. Water is obviously coming across cause it’s going towards this creek. there’s also a culvert there that’s pulling water under. So, once I’m way in I’m thinking, ‘Oh my, you know, what did I get into,’ and I have to hurry up and get on across so I can get to this person.”
Plotzer ultimately helped save the driver and other lives that night. Now, he’s being hailed a hero by many, including Tennessee Governor Bill Lee.
“He went into chest-deep water to help rescue motorists stranded on top of their vehicles. He didn’t hesitate to be the first one to help. He showed what it really means to be a public servant. He showed what it really means to be a leader,” Gov. Lee said.
Sheriff Bledsoe added, “He’s not just there for the position or a paycheck, it’s the little things that you do that show the dedication, so that’s what I would say makes him a hero.”
Months have gone by now since Ryan was rescued from the water, but he said he still relives the moment the flood swept into his home and his neighbors.
“I came out to move [my car] but there was no moving it because it was under water. Heroic actions you know. If it wasn’t for people like them, you know, people like him and the firefighters, you know we may not be here today. You saved our lives,” he said.
“So that’s what it’s about, that’s what we’re here for,” Lt. Plotzer replied.
Lt. Plotzer was honored during a ceremony at Hyundai of Cool Springs on Wednesday. He received a plaque for his lifesaving efforts. The ceremony was part of News 2’s monthly recognition called Hyundai of Cool Springs Heroes.
Once a month News 2, along with Hyundai of Cool Springs, will highlight a public servant who goes above and beyond the call of duty.