CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – “An officer dying that day just wasn’t an option,” said Deputy Jacob Hawkins, recalling his feelings when the above picture was taken.
Hawkins is seen in the photo providing medical care to a man on the ground -- Aviation Enforcement Agent Drew Stokes.
Editor's Note: The information and accompanying photo were released by the Clay County Sheriff's Office with permission from the Stokes and Hawkins families.
Drew, an agent in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Air and Marine Operation Division, was walking out of an Oakleaf business in 2017 when he was ambushed and shot five times.
Because of the amazing citizens on scene and the quick response of the Clay County Sheriff's Office deputy -- who provided tactical combat care -- Drew is alive and healthy today, Sheriff's Office spokesman Chris Padgett wrote in a social media post on Monday.
With three bullets still embedded within his body, daily thoughts of the traumatic event and a friendship built on extraordinary circumstances, Drew said he has mixed emotions about that September 2017 day.
The event will forever be a memory Drew and Jacob will share, and a time that the Clay County community will never forget, Padgett said.
With the Clay County Police Memorial Service coming up Wednesday morning, the law enforcement community is blessed to know that the events of that tragic afternoon did not add Drew’s name to the list of fallen agents.
Drew returned to flight duty last May.
Padgett said that just as it’s important during this week's police memorial service to recall those who have sacrificed their lives, it's important to remember those who have sacrificed so much and yet still serve.