“You’re in good hands baby girl.”
The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office’s comment was just one of many heartfelt responses on a photo of Deputy Ric Lindley holding an infant after a traumatic five-vehicle crash on Interstate 20.
The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office shared the photo of Lindley after a Tuesday morning crash which involved an ambulance, a tractor-trailer, and three passenger vehicles. No one was seriously injured in the crash — a small miracle, considering that 98% of semi truck accidents result in a fatality.
“Deputy Ric Lindley comforts a child at the scene of a traffic accident on I-20 near Leeds this morning,” read the caption for the photo of Lindley, which was posted onto the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page.
Within less than 24 hours, the photo had been shared nearly 8,000 times and accrued over 21,000 likes.
According to AL.com, Lindley’s paternal instincts kicked in after he happened upon the scene.
Lindley and his partner, Deputy Tim Sanford, were driving westbound down I-20 when they became snarled in the traffic jam. “It was at an absolute dead stop,” Lindley said. He turned on his lights and siren and drove through the emergency lane until reaching the accident.
The two deputy sheriffs, who were the first authorities on the scene, first made sure that everyone involved in the crash was alright. Lindley spotted a young mother standing off to the side cradling an infant girl in her arms — both of whom were involved in the crash — so Lindley first checked on the woman and then turned to the baby girl.
“I asked if she [the mother] was OK,” Lindley said. “She was pretty well shaken up, so I asked her if I could hold the baby. The baby was fine because she had been buckled in a car seat, but she was upset to start with.”
“After I held her and walked a bit, she quieted down. I recalled my days as a young father, and young grandfather, and I put those skills to work and calmed the baby down. She had a very sweet little personality.”
Deputy Sanford managed to snap the picture of Lindley, who is a 60-year-old grandfather and retired U.S. Army medical officer, and who has been a sheriff’s deputy for over a decade.
“I held her for a good while, at least an hour and a half. I wanted to give her mother time to regain her composure. She’s a young mother, and this was probably extremely traumatic for her. She was having a rough time from an emotion standpoint.”
Chief Deputy Randy Christian of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office summed up Lindley’s response well: “That kind of work doesn’t come through training, it comes from the heart and the kind of person you are. Great heart and character are the kinds of things we look for when recruiting. We certainly got it right on this one.”