Waycross Police Chief Tony Tanner is calling a 38-year-old man who died in a traffic crash Friday night a hero for risking his life to save his 4-year-old daughter.
Police said Dedrick "Twig" Bacon was walking on Knight Avenue about 8 p.m. with three children under the age of 10 when the youngest ran into the street. He ran after her and threw her out of the way of an oncoming car. Tanner said Bacon's momentum propelled him into the path of a car driven by a 20-year-old Blackshear woman.
Bacon was taken to Memorial Satilla Health, then transferred to Memorial Hospital in Jacksonville, where he died the next night. The driver was not injured but was visibly upset.
The police report said it was raining at the time of the accident. The driver was in tears and could barely speak to investigators, but the report indicates she did tell them she was going 40 mph and saw Bacon toss the child out of the road.
The report said an older son and daughter of Bacon were with him at the time of the accident and the officer chose not to interview them further because the officer "could tell the children were extremely upset."
“What do you call a man who throws himself into harm’s way to save a child?” Tanner told the Waycross Journal-Herald. “A hero.”
Shari Lee came upon the crash minutes after it happened.
“He had other kids as well, and it’s just terrible," Lee said.
The family’s pastor said Bacon’s girlfriend of 10 years and the mother of his children immediately turned to her faith.
“About 10 minutes after the children had come home, she called me for prayer ... and just to consult," said Pastor Chris Padgett, of First Church of the Nazarene.
"He was a leader, motivator, a well-rounded man who loved everyone. He would give his last to anyone in need. Most definitely looked out for anyone who needed a job," wrote Idella Bacon on the fundraising page. "His personality and good spirit will forever live on in hearts and those that he made contact with."
A GoFundMe page was set up to raise money for Bacon's funeral.
Lee said the area is particularly dangerous for pedestrians because there's a Kroger, Burger King and other restaurants and businesses nearby.
"There’s a lot of foot traffic, bicycles just trying to go across," Lee said. "There’s usually a lot of people walking.”
"It’s dangerous because the cars lined up on both sides and it makes it to where only one car can fit down the road," Julieanne Musgrove said.
Pastor Padgett said changes need to be made to make this often-crowded and dimly-lit street safer.
"Right now is time to look at the problem. Not necessarily dwell on what happened or, especially, the past, but look to the future to eliminate this," Padgett said.