There’s no faulting Sgt

Jeff Barnett on the difficult call made in the middle of the night. And in a devastating moment in his own life, he knew he was making a terrible decision, and he told Lexie he did right by her before the ambulance took her to the hospital; he told her he knew just what to do and that he’d never forget it, for her. He told her about his mother, his wife, their five children. He told her what they were doing here, with hundreds of people at the memorial, for her, and he hoped she knew that too. On the way, he grabbed his helmet, his holster and his service rifle, all his equipment, not sure exactly what to do, in the middle of the night, with another incident about to destroy his team. And finally, on this such an emotional night, he told her he’d have her back, get her back to her family, and manage the fallout that would follow the loss of someone she loved very much. “And I just headed off to the scene and to the helicopter, and then when they were about to take her off the mountain, with the ambulance, they were already going on with just a dump truck of police vehicles, and so I knew that I was probably just going to have to wait a while, because they were all taking off, and I had to figure out what to do at that point. I had to get the body out of the hilly area there in the area of 3:00 in the morning. And we had an open area just like a ditch, with all the zombies on it. I was told that when we got there that there was no cause for concern, because a lot of the zombies where in the ditch, and that’s when I knew, it was time, to get the body out of the really acidic ditch area, and leave that save to those police officers. So I just was taking everything I knew that we should take out of this ditch, which was gas and gasoline. And I just went back to the dump truck and got out all of my equipment, which is very little, and just started going through the dirt and saw all these cars there, and I was like, ‘Holy. Shit. That’s the Fire Department’s cars.’ And I remember thinking, ‘When they get in that back seat, I’m going to kill them.’ And the only reason I knew that was because the police had the yellow and red reflectors on them on their motorcycles; I was seeing the fire department’s blood. There was just this palpable fear, this genuine sense of fear, because I was in that area doing night duty.” Sgt. Matt Chavira of the Whitley County Sheriff’s Department describes the scene in which he found the body of party-goer Lexie Roberts, near the lake on Foxfire Park Road in Erwin. (Photo: Cassandra Swenson / CQ Roll Call)

Sgt. Matt Chavira thought it was time to get the body out of the dangerous acidic environment of the ditch. Sgt. Jeff Barnett didn’t want to leave Lexie behind. So they found six more vehicles and put them in an open area on the other side of the fire hill, so that in the event she needed to be resuscitated, they could get to her. As they approached, Cory Schmidt handed out bits of paper with the details of the fire department, “everything’s ready to go to the school, firefighters,” said Sgt. Chavira. “They’re ready when we get there.” An ambulance brought a fireman at about 4:30 a.m. Especially in the hopes that a doctor might be able to help her. Sgt. Chavira, with Sgt. Gerard Bullion, Dewey Brown and Barry Bapst, who were part of the 4th Tactical Search and Rescue Team, drove into the gravel area they’d cleared for bodies, and stopped about three yards away from the ditch. A third person was scooping out a living person from the other ditch. Thornell Reynolds in Evanston calls her son found her father after a firefight near Foxfire Park in Ward County, north of Erwin. (WEBP) He got out of the truck at the closer part of the location, got another piece of paper and handed it to the other body. “I just said, ‘Ladies, we’re going to go to the back.’ So all six of us got off the truck, and threw our gear on.” Sgt. Chavira and his two fellow search team members set out on foot toward the central clearing in the woods where Lexie’s body was found, one of two going down about 50 or 60 yards from the next clearing that they had set up. As they approached, Sgt. Chavira says Chavha brought back a piece of paper, which he handed back to Sgt.