Twenty-three individuals were recognized last week for their work in 2016 and 2017 with the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Department.

Sheriff Bill Puett presented five life-saving commendations, eight sheriff’s commendations, a community service award and a Purple Heart to department personnel.

Corp. Doug Pearce and Deputy Heather Annigian were recognized for their investigative teamwork. The two became aware Amanda Bennett, who has since been convicted of murder, was attempting to smuggle contraband to co-defendant Sebastian Dowell. Their investigation uncovered metal contraband, which posed a danger to jail staff.

The two also recovered a letter Bennett wrote, which was transferred to the prosecution and assisted in Bennett’s conviction and sentence, Puett said.

Deputy Cody Evans received two awards, including one of the life saving awards. This award recognized his actions in August 2017 when an inmate modified a razor and inflicted a life-threatening wound to an artery and began losing massive amounts of blood. Evans assessed the problem and immediately began applying pressure to the wound until emergency medical personnel arrived at the jail to take over.

In November 2017, Evans unlocked the cell of a murder suspect for trash removal. The prisoner violently attacked Evans in the head and face. He earned the department’s Purple Heart for his injuries, the sheriff said. Evans gained control until other deputies and jail personnel arrived to take over the situation, Puett added.

Court Marshal Brian Gross received a commendation for his actions in the Division 4 courtroom last year when Daniel Embrey failed a drug test and attempted to escape. Embrey fought with Gross and restrained him until other marshals arrived on the scene, the sheriff said.

Gross also called for medical assistance for a female in distress who collapsed at the podium while talking to Circuit Judge Dan Kellogg. He assisted the woman and kept control of other prisoners sitting in the courtroom, Puett said.

Detention Deputy Kaleb Chance and Deputy Bailey Morgan were two of the deputies recognized for their life-saving work.

The two found a prisoner who attempted to hang herself in her cell, the sheriff said. Their quick action kept the prisoner from succeeding in her efforts, he said.

Deputy Josh Rudisill was recognized four times by the sheriff for his work. Rudisill received the community service award for his off-duty volunteer work with Special Olympics, including recruiting other members of the department to participate in programs. Rudisill also received a life-saving award for stopping a Buchanan County resident’s suicide attempt and two other sheriff’s commendations, the sheriff said.

Investigators Josh Hewitt and Chris Brinton began working in 2016 when a substance identified as U-47700, also called pink, was being sent from foreign countries to some people in Buchanan County. The substance wasn’t illegal at the time even though it had been identified as being associated with overdose deaths. The two investigated the drug, worked with Northwest Missouri state representatives in Jefferson City, including Galen Higdon.

Their efforts assisted in getting the drug quickly identified as an illegal schedule one controlled substance, Puett said.

Other deputies recognized for their exemplary work included captains Mark Brock and Thom Cates, investigators Tami Parsons, Mike Hess, Kenny Shryock and Lonnie Bishop, sergeants Dan Hill, Scott Babcock and Zach Ezzell, Cpl. Matt Hufford and deputies Pat Clark, Alex Whorton and Dennis Yager.

By Marshall White | News-Press