Inmates Hailed as Heroes

By: Valerie Lacy
By: Valerie Lacy

When you think of superheroes you picture a cape and a man who stands as a pillar of the community. These two heroes are wearing stripes at the county jail, both doing time for drugs.

Shell Point is known for its beautiful sailboats and on some days its fast moving current. A few weeks ago those two ingredients mixed.

An elderly man found his vessel capsized and both were being carried out to sea.

Billy Harrell, an inmate at the Wakulla County Jail, said, "Whenever we seen the guy with the boat flipped over there's people sitting there in their cars just watching and stuff; they just weren't doing nothing."

Billy and fellow inmate Joey Raker were out at the Point on maintenance detail. It's hard work, but both say they don't mind.

Billy said, "It's better than being locked up in here all day."

They asked for permission and swam out in the fast moving current for a rescue.

Billy said, "I was kinda wondering if someone was gonna have to rescue me and Joey too. I mean, it was a good distance out there. It was almost in the channel about 150 yards out."

Joey Raker, another inmate, said, "These canvas clothes don't swim very good. The boat, the sail was in the water. We was trying to drag it back. It was heavy, very heavy."

The rescue took more than 30 minutes.

Joey was asked, "Did it at any point in time cross your mind that, ‘I could go for freedom at this point?’”

“Not right now ‘cause I'm almost out," he said.

Sheriff David Harvey said, "The ultimate heroic act is when one person risks their life to save the life of another, and that's what we have here."

They’re ultimate heroes found at the county jail, and the sheriff is pleading to a judge to reduce some of the inmates’ time in jail, saying these guys deserve a little slack.

The 75-year-old man is doing perfectly fine, although out of town at the moment. He sent a letter of thanks to both inmates, by way of the sheriff.


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