Hurricane Irma approached. Shelters opened and Indiantown residents sought safety at Warfield Elementary School. Deputy Sheriff Cristen Garcia was also assigned to be at Warfield, where she spent three days and nights monitoring the situation.
She conducted perimeter searches of the building during the storm, bringing in stragglers and oversaw indoor safety after the power went out.
The day after Irma, Deputy Garcia went off duty. Before leaving Warfield Elementary she took note of an elderly man sitting on the step with his small golden-haired dog. Deputy Garcia offered him a ride home, but the gentleman declined, stating that he was too far from home, adding that his truck wouldn’t start.
The evacuee was from Naples. Somehow he got lost and arrived in Indiantown. He had forgotten his medications and had health problems. Deputy Garcia phoned for an ambulance. The lost man insisted he would not go to the hospital. His concern was for his dog, Sammy.
That day, from 11AM until 9:30PM, Deputy Garcia acted as a Good Samaritan. Exhausted herself, she kept her promise to care for Sammy the dog, had the truck’s dead battery replaced, prepared food for the evacuee, made sure he went to Martin South’s Emergency Room, picked him up and got him into the Hidden Oaks Middle School shelter in Palm City for one last night before heading home.
Another Good Samaritan, a nurse from the emergency room, gave $80 for Deputy Garcia to fill the evacuee’s truck tank with gas and feed him on his return to Naples. Deputy Garcia drove his truck to the shelter, made sure Sammy the dog would be fed and then she went home.
During that day and the following one, Deputy Garcia kept in touch with the gentleman’s daughters, letting them know how and where their father was.
The following day, a chaplain with the Sheriff’s Office made sure the evacuee safely left for home.
Deputy Garcia went beyond the call of service.
A woman of deep faith, she states, “It costs us nothing to be nice; we need to care more about human life.”
Deputy Sheriff Garcia has also prevented a suicide and received a commendation for her act in 2012. I asked her why she became a sheriff deputy. She answered, “My whole life I’ve wanted to be in law enforcement. I want to help those who truly can’t help themselves.”
Deputy Sheriff Cristen Garcia is truly a hometown hero.
Her previous experience includes two and a half years on duty at the Martin County Jail.
Born in Tallahassee, Deputy Garcia now resides in Port St. Lucie. She is currently assigned to the Martin County Courthouse in Stuart as a bailiff.
© 2017 "Hometown Heroes" Kelly Jadon