EPD Officer's Act of Kindness Spreads on Social Media

An Evansville police officer's green thumb and good deed has earned high praise not only from department brass, but also hundreds of people on social media.

On Tuesday afternoon, Jim Turner and his wife were pruning weeds near the end of their property on Morgan Avenue. Because Turner's property sits near a stormwater drain, he periodically has to pull the weeds that have grown in the grate. It can be a precarious chore, especially considering the volume of speeding cars whizzing by on the busy street.

It's even more difficult for a man whose lifelong battle with polio has left him in a wheelchair.

"I try to be independent. I try to be. I do most of what I want to do," Turner said. "I've taken the attitude most of my life that I can do anything you can do. I just might be a little bit slower."

Turner's steadfast independence isn't limited to yard work. In his backyard is 300 feet of miniature train track that he installed himself. Miniature trains have been a lifelong passion that he and his wife both share.

"I actually started putting [the track] together last winter. It gets pretty tough to put one of these sections in from this," Turner said as he referenced his wheelchair.

Whether it's toying around with trains or fine-tuning his elaborate amateur radio setup, Turner enjoys being outdoors above all else. Being in a wheelchair hasn't deterred him from doing seemingly anything he wants.

That includes working on his well-manicured lawn, which is what he was doing late Tuesday afternoon.

"How many hundreds of people pass by and nobody stops? Nobody comes back by, you know?" Turner said. "And here comes an Evansville police officer. I would have never believed it."

As Turner was slowly by surely pulling weeds, a police officer later identified as Sara Gibson stopped by. Turner initially thought the officer was going to ask him to stop, considering the danger that the rush hour traffic caused.

Instead, the officer asked a simple question.

"She came up and asked me if I would like some help," Turner said. "I'm not brain dead. I never turn down help."

And so the two went to work. Officer Gibson traded her duty weapon for a gardening hoe while Turner would follow behind with a shovel. Back and forth they went. Gibson told Turner that she'd help out as long as it took to either finish or until she got dispatched on an emergency call.

They finished an hour later.

"I kept telling my wife that nobody will believe this. If we tell somebody this, nobody is going to believe that an Evansville police officer stopped and had done this," Turner said.

Turner said he and Officer Gibson made small talk in between pulling weeds. They talked about their families and how Gibson graduated from the police academy about three years ago.

The experience left Turner with a great deal of gratitude.

"I'm immensely grateful. I kind of wanted to give her a big hug whenever we were ready to go but police officers are a little bit intimidating even if they are friendly," Turner said with a joking smile. "I'll be sure to give her that hug next time though."

Officer Gibson also has a standing invitation to bring her family to see Turner's trains.


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