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Eastern Kentucky Sheriff's Deputy Awarded Medal of Valor

BLAINE, Ky. (WSAZ) -- Every week you'll see Karen Wood sitting on the front stoop, of her home. The problem is her home is no longer there.

"It says something about the cycle of life and about God," said Wood. "I come here to talk to my Mom and daughter."

Woods' family home was destroyed during a tornado that touched down in this rural community, back on March 2. Her mom and daughter did not survive that destructive night, which left thousands in eastern Kentucky homeless.

"It was tree after tree after tree that crossed the road," said Lawrence County Deputy Mark Wheeler. "I was home, not far away, with my wife when the storm came through, and did what I could to help."

Wheeler was off duty at the time and rushed to his car to help. In a letter sent to the Kentucky Sheriff's Association, Sheriff Garrett Roberts wrote:

"Getting approximately one mile away he continued on foot through the dark, heavy rain, falling trees, and debris to get to the residence. As he got closer he came in contact with the first victim of the tornado, a 15-year-old boy walking in a daze down the road. This is when Chief Deputy Wheeler knew it was worse than first expected."

Wheeler has been honored for his bravery, going "above and beyond" the call of duty. He received a Medal of Valor from the Kentucky Sheriff's Association.

"We're all just human beings, and they needed help," said Wheeler. "I learned that night, to just be thankful for what you got and do the best you can, because you just don't how long you're going to have it."

"That man risked everything by going into a crumbling home to try and save my mom and daughter," says Wood. "I can never thank him enough for what he did. He truly deserves that medal."


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