PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — June 6, 2021, is a hazy memory for Panama City Beach Police Officer Jessica Coupe.
“One of the biggest things as the Police Chief you fear is you get a phone call in the middle of the night that one of your people are hurt,” Panama City Beach Police Chief J.R Talamantez said. “Well, a week after taking the job I get a phone call in the middle of the night that officer Coupe was involved in a pretty serious traffic accident while on duty.”
Also on duty that night was a Waste Pro truck driver– Chris England.
He rescued the officer trapped in her car.
“Just instinct you know,” England said. “It’s what everybody should do for an officer.”
A person believed to be driving up to 80 miles per hour on Panama City Beach Parkway, also known as Back Beach Road, slammed their car into the back of Coupe’s police vehicle, causing it to spin off into the median.
England stopped immediately and ran to the officer’s rescue through the busy lanes.
“When I got to her driver’s door, it was all jammed up,” England said. “I couldn’t open it. So I asked her if could she come out to the other side and when I got to the other side and got it open, she couldn’t really function because she hit her head pretty hard and I kind of climbed in and grabbed her and pulled her out and stood her up.”
England waited with officer Coupe for EMS to arrive.
Several months passed by before he saw her again.
“He’s like ‘do you remember who I am,” Officer Coupe said. “I was like ‘to be honest no’ and he was just like ‘I’m the one that pulled you out of the car,’ and it was awesome you know, especially being a civilian.”
Coupe said she’s forever grateful for England’s bravery.
“I mean he ran across Back Beach Road so pretty crazy,” Coupe said.
And while it took a while to track him down, Panama City Beach leaders were finally able to formally recognize the local hero at their most recent City Council meeting.
“The city extends our gratitude for your public display of integrity, service, commitment, and compassion which are all components of our mission statement.”
Officer Coupe said her injuries could have been a lot worse. A reminder to everyone to slow down.