COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - One of Columbia's finest received an award today from the American Red Cross, for saving a life.
Corporal Justin Poage of the Columbia Police Department responded to a crash at I-77 and Bluff Road in Columbia in January. When he arrived on the scene, Cpl. Poage found Brandon Zinn on the ground with a severed leg, the victim of an apparent drunk driver.
Cpl. Poage applied a tourniquet he kept in his pocket to Zinn's leg and prevented Zinn from bleeding out before he was transported to the hospital. Poage said he kept the tourniquet in the pocket of his cargo pants every day for 5 years, thinking he might need it for himself or one of his fellow officers one day. As it turned out, he used it to save Brandon Zinn's life.
Zinn, a husband, and new father was training to be a Columbia firefighter, just weeks from graduation when the crash happened.
Poage described the frantic moments when he first saw Zinn on the ground.
"It was just pure action. I knew what needed to be done. So I believe my Heavenly Father was looking out for me as well as him, but allowing me to be that tool, and guiding me on using that tourniquet properly. And just being there with him and for him, before he was transported."
Zinn says he doesn't remember the crash or the aftermath but does remember waking up to learn he had lost half of his leg. He says he initially suffered from depression but with God's help, he's learned to cope and forgive the driver who permanently injured him.
"I got extremely depressed," Zinn said. "Nothing solved my depression issues until I said 'God I forgive this man. I give this man to you. His actions don’t mean anything to me anymore.' And I can’t tell you the peace I received doing that."
Even with his prosthetic leg, Zinn still plans to fulfill his dream of becoming a firefighter. He is excited about the second chance he has been afforded.
"It's amazing having the feeling that I am alive. That I have all of the opportunities to see my family is amazing. It feels so good to be alive, honestly."
Corporal Pogue and Zinn now share a special bond, as Pogue reached out to Zinn several weeks ago just to check on his progress. Pogue insists he is not a hero. He says he was just doing what he was supposed to do. He says it's hard to fathom what happened that day.
"I was always raised to help others. Selfless service. Charity. The true love of Christ. Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you. I always try to help others, That’s kind of why I'm a police officer."
The driver in the crash was charged with DUI- pending the outcome of his trial.