By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Inmate helps stricken guard
Work details turns into rescue effort
Darrell Mumford, an inmate at the Bulloch County Correctional Institution, helped a guard through a medical emergency while on work detail. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

A prison work detail began as usual Monday morning, but an unexpected turn of events ended with a guard, experiencing a possible stroke, being airlifted to Savannah, thanks to a quick-thinking prison inmate who likely saved his life.

Bulloch County Correctional Institute guard Oscar Vickery and inmate Darrell Mumford were picking up solid waste in the Portal area when Vickery began acting strangely, said Warden Chris Hill.

Vickery, who Hill said “is in his 60s,” was driving a solid waste truck with Mumford as a passenger when Vickery began showing signs of a possible stroke, Hill said.

Mumford said that he noticed Vickery was driving erratically and weaving on the roadway as they traveled from Pleasant Hill Road to a nearby dump site.

“It was around 7:25 (a.m.) on detail, and I saw he was having some type of a problem,” Mumford said. “We got on Moore Road, and he was driving towards the side of the road.”

At first he didn’t comment on the guard’s driving, but when Vickery continued leaving the roadway and “snatching” the vehicle back onto the road, Mumford decided to speak up. When he did, Vickery didn’t answer.

They reached their destination at the dump site on Old River Road and Rocky Ford Road, but Vickery continued to act oddly and failed to reply to the inmate’s questions of “Are you all right?” Realizing something was badly wrong, Mumford took over.

“I picked the mic (radio microphone) up and told them (guards at the work camp) something was wrong,” he said.

Then, he threw the truck into neutral and pulled the emergency brake.

“He still didn’t respond, but just looked at me and couldn’t speak,” he said.

Mumford, alone and virtually without supervision, waited with Vickery until EMTs arrived at the scene. They contacted Air Evac to fly Vickery to a Savannah hospital, Hill said.

“The doctors told us (Mumford) probably saved Vickery’s life” by being alert and calling for help as quickly as he did, he said.

Privacy laws prevent hospitals from releasing personal health information, and due to the circumstances, Vickery was not immediately available for comment Wednesday. However, Hill said that he is undergoing treatment and is recovering.

He said that Vickery told Mumford, “I appreciate what you did. This could have been deadly.”

Specific plans have not yet been determined, but Hill said that Mumford will be recognized and rewarded for his actions. Those rewards may include recognition on the Georgia Department of Corrections website, a letter of commendation, a certificate and a special meal, he said.

Mumford, 51, from Baxley, said Wednesday that he is serving a sentence for a burglary conviction. According to the Georgia Department of Corrections, he was convicted of several burglaries in Appling and Chatham counties.

“I made some bad choices, using drugs and no job,” he said. “I thought at the time that was what I could do” to get money to fuel his addiction, he said of the burglaries, adding that he regrets his actions.

As for saving the guard, “I knew by the grace of God he was having a stroke or something,” he said, adding that his mother and others he knows have experienced similar issues.

“I knew I could try and get some help, to help someone in need,” he said.


Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.


Sign up for the Herald's free e-newsletter