Sheriff on injured deputy: "She's a warrior."

Published: Dec. 15, 2011 at 3:31 AM EST|Updated: Dec. 25, 2011 at 3:32 AM EST
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NEWBERRY, SC (WIS) - Determination, strength and faith are just some of the things Newberry County Sheriff's Deputy Erin Leighton has had to rely on to make it to Graduation Day.

Leighton received a degree in chemistry and forensic science.

"It's great," said Leighton. "It's one of the best days of my life. Graduating from Newberry College and I'm happy and I'm healthy. Just a wonderful day."

A tragic car accident threatened to sideline Leighton, but she's up and walking again. However, she's been wearing a device to support her neck and keep her from moving it.

The wreck happened just two days before Thanksgiving. Leighton was trying to catch up to a driver who was trying to escape a holiday checkpoint, but ended up crashing.

"We immediately had people at the hospital and we've stayed with her and we've tried to help she and her family with anything we can," said Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster.

Foster has been with Leighton every step of the recovery process and says he couldn't be prouder.

"Daily I would send her text messages trying to encourage her to stay strong," said Foster. "She really didn't need that because she's a fighter. She's a warrior."

Leighton, who's been with sheriff's department for one year, plans on making a full return to the force as soon as she get the doctor's go-ahead.

"They are just as ready for me to get come back as I am to get back," said Leighton.

Newberry County is still looking for the suspect who got away from the holiday checkpoint.

Authorities say it was a red pick-up truck and if you have any information you are asked to call Crimestoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC.

Related story:

Trapped deputy rescued from cruiser after crash

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