Critically injured CCSO Deputy Adam Clark ‘making progress’

K9 Figo is being evaluated at Auburn University

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Cullman County Sheriff Matt Gentry gives an update on Deputy Adam Clark and his K9 Wednesday, Feb. 12. (Maggie Darnell for The Cullman Tribune)

Updated 2-12-20 at 4:36 p.m.

CULLMAN, Ala.– Cullman County Sheriff Matt Gentry said Deputy Adam Clark, who was critically injured in a wreck early Tuesday morning, is “making progress.”

Gentry addressed the media Wednesday at East Side Baptist Church, where he gave an update on Clark and his K9 partner Figo, who was also seriously injured.

Dispatch lost contact with Clark during heavy rain. Deputies located Clark more than an hour later, when they discovered he had wrecked along Alabama Highway 69 South and was unconscious.

A traffic alert issued by the department Tuesday morning said the highway was closed just past County Road 8 just before 5 a.m. It remained closed for almost three hours.

“Yesterday morning, real early, we started trying to raise and notify Deputy Clark over the radio,” Gentry said Wednesday. “Once we couldn’t make contact, we realized something had happened.”

Gentry said the Cullman County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) enlisted the help of the Cullman Police Department (CPD).

“We have GPS on our vehicles, which aided in getting us in the general area. Cullman EMS, the local volunteer fire departments…it took us approximately an hour. We were able to locate Deputy Clark and his vehicle off a ravine,” he said, noting that bad weather conditions hindered the efforts.

“Once they were located, first responders, Cullman EMS immediately went to work to extract Deputy Clark,” said Gentry.

Clark was transported by ambulance to Huntsville Hospital. K9 Figo was transported to a veterinary clinic at Auburn University.

“One of the things I want to commend, during that response, all of the different law enforcement agencies, all the way to the hospital, which was pretty amazing,” Gentry said. “Again, the weather conditions were not the best in the world. As we were traveling up the interstate, (there was) extremely hard rain, which makes those situations very difficult, and I want to commend Cullman EMS on doing that.”

Gentry also praised the CPD. He said a CPD officer was the first to find Deputy Clark.

“Today,” he said, “Adam has made a lot of progress. We were at the hospital earlier (Wednesday) talking with the family, and the positive is that we are seeing progress, you know, constantly. We’re not out of danger yet, but we are making progress in a critical situation, which is a blessing. If you look on social media, everything you see, all the prayers and blessings, you know for us as a community, that’s huge. One of the things that the family wanted for me to convey today is how much they appreciate everybody that has assisted in this, from yesterday morning until today. They can’t thank you enough.”

Gentry said K9 Figo is being evaluated at Auburn.

“They’re doing CT scans, MRIs on him, so we can find out what is needed from here and let us know his condition. The deputies transported him to Auburn yesterday,” he said. “I don’t know if you know anything about K9 officers and their K9s…they’re very, very close to each other, so that is a priority (too) for the family, making sure that Adam is better too. They’re very close.”

The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) is in charge of the investigation into the wreck, which Gentry said was caused by the weather conditions early Tuesday morning. Heavy rain was in the area at the time.

He talked a little more about the search efforts to find Clark and Figo, saying the GPS ping from Clark’s vehicle gave them a “general area” in which to search. He said in the area where the wreck occurred, along Alabama Highway 69 “coming out of Bremen going to Dodge City, you have to go up a hill; on both sides is a ravine.”

He said the deputies, CPD officers, firefighters and Cullman EMS were all searching that general area around the last known ping.

“(The CPD officer who found Clark) happened to look off in the ravine and see his vehicle, so he did an amazing job. It’s just being diligent,” said Gentry. “Somebody said they’d passed by it 10 times while they were looking. It’s just a blessing the Good Lord put on him to be able to find him.”

Gentry addressed how the incident has affected his office, saying, “That’s a pretty traumatic incident. You know, law enforcement, we’ve been, I guess you’d say, in tragedy, the last couple of weeks with what we dealt with with the Kimberly officer, Officer (Nick) O’Rear. That’s a traumatic event for law enforcement, and then to have this on top of it. It just makes it tough across the board, but the great thing is we have a great support system.”

He said Chaplain Matt Smith has helped the family and the CCSO employees who need him.

“The Good Lord blessed us,” said the sheriff. “We were able to find him. We were able to have the right people in place to treat him medically to get him to the hospital and then great doctors and staff there that are continuing to treat him.”

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CCSO Deputy Adam Clark and K9 Deputy Figo (Cullman County Sheriff’s Office)
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Wendy Sack

wendy@cullmantribune.com