Deputy Thomas M. Buchness, Christian County

MEDAL OF VALOR — From left, Christian County Deputy Sheriff Thomas Buchness, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson and Missouri Director of the Department of Public Safety Sandy Karsten at a ceremony in Jefferson City Oct. 13, 2020, in which Buchness received a Missouri Medal of Valor for saving a woman at risk of drowning on the Finley River near Sparta on June 18, 2019.


Christian County Deputy Thomas Buchness received the Missouri Medal of Valor at a ceremony in Jefferson City on Oct. 13.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson hOCT onored Buchness among 11 first responders and six civilians for heroic actions they took in 2019.

On June 18, 2019, Buchness responded to a call in rural Sparta for reports of a woman trapped in the Finley River, clinging to a large log as swift water swept around her. The woman suffered a panic attack and was struggling for breath.

Buchness traveled through a wooded area to reach the woman, and found that her condition was deteriorating. He threw her a long, heavy-duty extension cord and told the woman to secure herself to the log, but she was disoriented and was losing consciousness. 

Deputy Buchness removed his duty gear, descended a steep embankment, and carefully climbed out onto the log. Once he reached the victim, he reassured her she would be okay,” a report submitted to the governor’s office reads.

Firefighters arrived and provided the woman with a life jacket. They used the extension cord as a rescue rope to bring the woman and then the deputy to safety on the river bank.

During an extremely tense situation, Deputy Buchness exhibited calm, decisive action and resourcefulness, which facilitated the rescue of a woman in imminent danger of drowning,” the report reads.

The Missouri Medal of Valor represents the state’s highest recognition for first responders working as individuals and as members of a team during critical incidents. 

“Each year, this award ceremony demonstrates the heroic, life-saving acts our first responders selflessly perform to protect their fellow Missourians,” Parson said. “Today, we honored eleven law enforcement officers and firefighters who bravely risked their lives to save others. Their acts serve as an inspiration and reminder of the risk these public servants take on each and every day.”

Family members and a small number of colleagues were on hand for the awards presentation during the Jefferson City ceremony. Social distancing was followed, and masks were required.

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