Sherry Scott, left, hugs Jackie Stephens at South Side School on Friday as they talk about the Oct. 17 incident. (Ron Campbell/ Johnson City Press)
Sherry Scott, special education assistant at South Side Elementary School, loves her job.
“I love South Side. I like to be involved in as much as possible with anything that’s happening here, whether it be the music program, whether it be an after-school program or anything that they have to offer,” Scott said.
On Oct. 17, she was able to put her helper mentality into action, as she saved a school volunteer who is also a great-grandmother of one of the school’s students from being run over by her own vehicle.
Just before the start of the school day, Scott was walking out to Jackie Stephens’ SUV parked on the street near the school to deliver cookie dough purchased through Stephens’ great-grandson.
“I was going to be nice and open the back door for her,” Stephens said.
Stephens, who had forgotten to put her car in park, started to get out of the vehicle and with both legs out the door, the vehicle started rolling.
“I was still on the seat, kind of sliding, and the car started rolling,” she said. “Sherry saw that. She dropped all the cookie dough.”
Scott said while the incident took only a matter of seconds, she thought quickly to help Stephens, who at that point was on the ground in a half split, with the back tire of the car heading for her legs.
“I did try one thing ... (by) trying to help her up, which anybody I would think would try to do,” she said. “When ... I knew that I could not get her up that quick, or while this vehicle was rolling, my next instinct was just to stop it ... do whatever I had to do, protect her no matter what, and (I) put my hand on the brake and then put it in park.”
Afterward, Scott said she was scared that she hurt Stephens when she had to reach over her to put the car in park, but Stephens said besides being sore the next day from scraped legs from where the car kept scooting her along while it was rolling, she was fine.
Scott said Johnson City Police Officer Mark Williams also was at the school during the accident and called in EMS to check out Stephens for injuries.
When EMS arrived on the scene, Scott said she went back to work, and was greeted by a hug from school principal Dr. Anne Littleford.
“I went back and continued my car duty,” she said. “Dr. Littleford came out and we hugged and I just continued to motion the cars there. I was nervous, but I wanted to hold my composure because the children were coming, parents were coming. I did not want anybody to get alarmed.”
Scott said Williams reportedly went back to the police station and reported what he had seen to South Side’s school resource officer, David Holtsclaw.
The next day, during the school’s regularly scheduled assembly, Holtsclaw presented Scott with a JCPD mug and a pin that read “The best protecting the best.”
“They called my name and I sat there because everybody started standing and clapping,” Scott said. “I just felt overwhelmed with the students, because I love working at South Side. I’m here for the students, the parents, for the faculty, everyone. I love meeting and greeting everybody and making sure everybody is safe coming into our school. It was just amazing, the feeling of helping.”
Littleford said she was grateful for Scott’s quick action that day.
“Everyone at school was talking about what they probably ... would have done (in that situation) and it wasn’t the way that Sherry reacted,” she said. “We were so grateful that she did. Several people saw (the incident) and were just amazed.”
“Before this incident, many of us have talked about all of the hats that she wears at this school,” Littleford said. “The children love her, the teachers love her, the parents and grandparents and great-grandparents love her. Honestly, she does so many things. She is truly so valuable here at South Side.”