Lifestyle & Human Interest

Three Inmates Help Save Prison Guard's Life During Heart Attack


A jail might not seem like the safest place to be when you experience a life-threatening emergency, but for Deputy Warren Hobbs, it was a bit of a miracle that he happened to suffer a heart attack while on duty.

Hobbs works at Gwinnett County Jail in Georgia. According to inmates, he started to behave strangely during a recent shift.

“Kinda was like laid back in his chair and just started [making noises],” inmate Mitchell Smalls told WAGA-TV.

“That’s when I just started hollering and screaming and banging on the door to try to alert everybody to wake up.”

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Things quickly went from bad to worse as the deputy slipped out of his chair, hit his head on the floor and started bleeding profusely. WAGA-TV described the incident as a “cardiac incident,” and the New York Post called it a heart attack.

“The inmates whose rooms were close enough to see what was happening began pounding on their doors,” the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office wrote in a post on Facebook on Tuesday. “Soon the entire unit was thundering with noise as many inmates pounded on the doors shouting for our deputy who lay unconscious and heavily bleeding on the floor.”

“Our deputy later stated that while he did not realize he’d been unconscious, he became aware of what sounded like pounding drums and could hear inmates shouting his name over and over.”

Terry Lovelace, another inmate, pleaded with the deputy.

“He grabbed a hold of the desk and he was pulling himself up like this,” Lovelace said. “I mean, it was sad, I mean because he didn’t look good at all but yet the man had fight in him enough to get up.

“And as he come up, I’m sitting there hollering then cause I can make eye contact with him, then I’m like Deputy Hobbs, Deputy Hobbs, Deputy Hobbs, Deputy Hobbs, please, please …”

According to the post from the sheriff’s office, Deputy Hobbs “immediately thought an inmate needed help and somehow managed to rise to his feet and press the control panel to open cell doors.”

That move could’ve ended his life, but instead, it saved his life. Lovelace called for help on the deputy’s radio, and another inmate, Walter Whitehead, used the phone.

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“Their efforts were successful and help arrived almost immediately,” the post continued. “We’re happy to report that our deputy survived the harrowing incident and is recovering at home until he can return to duty.”

“These inmates came to his aid because our deputy, like most law enforcement officers, treats people with the dignity they deserve. These inmates had no obligation whatsoever to render aid to a bleeding, vulnerable deputy, but they didn’t hesitate. Many people have strong opinions about law enforcement officers and criminals, but this incident clearly illustrates the potential goodness found in both.”

Hobbs expressed his gratitude for the actions of Whitehead, Lovelace and Smalls, and though the three men are still in jail, they’re also being regarded as heroes.

“It scared me,” Whitehead said. “I mean, I don’t care if it’s a police officer or whoever it was, you know. I’m gonna do whatever I can to do to save a man.”

“I don’t want to see nobody die.”

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