Senoia family rescues neighbor in need
by Clay Neely - firstname.lastname@example.org
While all human beings possess the “flight or fight” response, each individual will ultimately respond in his or her own specific way.
In the instance of hearing gun shots, many would take the “flight” instinct.
However, for one Senoia family, the “fight” instinct ultimately saved the life of Bernard Sinkfield, the victim of a shooting on April 1.
The Mullins family members were outside that afternoon doing yardwork when the two eldest children, Justin and Ashlee, arrived home from high school for the day.
“We were outside doing yardwork, cutting down trees when they pulled up,” said their father, Chris. “We told them to go inside and change into some work clothes so they could help us.”
At first, the siblings sighed and made their way inside. But suddenly the family heard a heated argument break out across the street. Chris told the two youngest boys to stay close to the house while Ashlee immediately began recording the altercation with her smartphone.
“I knew something was going to happen because they just kept screaming back and forth,” said Chris. “One guy would walk away, and so we thought it was over, but then the other guy would start yelling and it would start all over.”
Suddenly, the unmistakable sound of two gunshots rang out – warning shots, fired into the ground by Michael Eure Hanson, according to Chris.
“My wife grabbed the two youngest boys and ran into the house,” said Chris. “I started to yell at both of them to knock it off, that there were children outside.”
It was then that the family watched as Sinkfield began running toward his home, bobbing and weaving.
“It looked like he was trying to get away from the shooter,” Justin recalled.
Hanson then aimed his gun and fired several shots at Sinkfield, according to Chris. Justin ran toward Sinkfield as he fell to the ground while Ashlee called 911.
“All of the sudden, we saw the Hanson’s car flying toward us,” said Ashley. “Someone yelled out ‘license plate’ so we memorized it the best we could.”
Ashlee memorized the letters while Chris memorized the numbers.
However, Chris suddenly saw a school bus was coming down the road and rushed to intercept it.
“I was screaming at the driver, pounding on the bus just to get her to stop,” Chris recalled “I told her that there had been a shooting. She immediately turned the bus around and took the children back to school and they went into lockdown.”
“The entire time was just a blur,” Justin said. “I didn’t really pay attention to what was happening around me. I was just focused on helping Bernard.”
As Justin arrived next to Sinkfield, he called out to his father that Sinkfield had been shot in the leg.
“I began looking for an exit wound on his leg but didn’t see one,” Justin said. “I saw blood pouring out of his leg, but as I put my finger over his wound, blood spurted out more and more.”
Justin called out to the neighbor to get some bath towels for the victim and then raised Sinkfield’s pant leg higher where he ultimately found the exit wound. Ashley immediately ran to assist her brother, helping apply pressure to the wound. Their mother, Joy, used her belt as a tourniquet.
“We then found a chair in the yard so we could elevate his foot,” Justin said. “Once we did, he let out a horrible scream. I started checking his body and ultimately found another gunshot wound in his ankle.”
Ashlee knew that in order to keep Sinkfield from going into shock, she needed to talk to him constantly.
“I held his hand and asked him things like, ‘Is this your mom?’ and ‘Do you like to play basketball?’ – things like that,” Ashlee said, citing a recent drivers ed class where she had learned how to keep a person from going into shock.
While waiting for the ambulance, Ashlee and Justin kept applying pressure to the leg wound, but Sinkfield’s blood was still soaking through the towel.
By the time the ambulance arrived, Justin and Ashlee had slowed the bleeding down, although it continued to ooze.
The family found out later from Sinkfield’s mother that the bullet wound in his leg had severed his femoral artery.
“We were told by a nurse that, left unattended, a victim of a lacerated femoral artery can bleed out in about five minutes,” Chris said. “Thats why there was so much blood.”
As soon as the ambulance departed, the Mullins family got back to their yardwork.
“We got to change our clothes first, though,” Ashlee said. “So that was a plus.”
While the Mullins’ have lived in their neighborhood for more than two years, they had never heard anything out of the ordinary from either family – no loud parties, disruptions or any kind of altercations.
“I told my friends just what happened and they said, ‘But I thought you lived in a nice neighborhood,’ and I tell them, ‘I do.’ It’s just one of those freaky things that come out of nowhere,” Chris said. “We still like where we live. It’s a nice neighborhood.”
The following day, Bernard’s family came over to thank the Mullins for their help in saving his life – believing if the family hadn’t reacted immediately, Sinkfield would have died on the scene.
“Our families were more or less strangers up to that point,” Chris said. “We’d wave at each other but never had any sort of contact with them.”
The incident resonated the most with the eldest siblings.
Justin, a senior at East Coweta High School, had already planned on pursuing a career in law enforcement and feels that the incident hasn’t altered his goal. “It was a real eye-opener in terms of what I might be looking forward to,” he said.
Ashlee, a junior at East Coweta, felt the day was just as significant for her.
“Just that afternoon, I had passed my test in order to get into West Georgia to take criminal justice classes,” she said. “So it was a pretty ‘trial by fire’ day for both of us.”
Ultimately, Chris says he couldn’t be prouder of his children.
“I really can’t say I’m surprised by their actions,” Chris said. “It makes you feel good as a parent to see your kids act so unselfishly. It was just their natural instinct.”
Follow Clay Neely on Twitter - @clayneely