Canadian County sheriff’s deputy lauded

Mustang American Legion Post recognizes Allen's heroic efforts in fiery I-40 crash

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Canadian County Sheriff Deputy Jeff Allen is honored Monday, July 26 with the “Law Enforcement Officer of the Year” award from Mustang American Legion Post 353. The presentation is made by former post commander Paul Ray during the weekly Canadian County Commissioners' meeting in El Reno. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)

EL RENO – A Canadian County sheriff’s deputy was recognized this week for his heroic efforts trying to save a girl in a fiery crash.

Deputy Jeff Allen has been named the Mustang American Legion Post 353 “Law Enforcement Officer of the Year” for 2021.

Post 353 officer Paul Ray read aloud a citation honoring the sheriff’s deputy during the July 26th Canadian County Commissioners’ meeting in El Reno.

“It gives me a lot of pleasure to present deputy Jeff Allen with the Mustang American Legion Post ‘Law Enforcement Officer of the Year’ award,” said Ray, who was Post 353 commander from 2013-18.

Ray also gave Allen a Mustang American Legion Post 353 “challenge coin” as a “symbol of acceptance” into the organization.

Allen was honored for his actions after responding to a “wrong-way” traffic collision about 1:37 a.m. Oct. 17, 2020, on Interstate 40 near mile marker 120 in Canadian County.

A Moore woman was driving eastbound in the westbound lanes when she caused a deadly head-on collision with another car, according to Canadian County court records.

Deputy Allen saw that one vehicle had rolled over and was lying on its top on the north side of I-40, and that a sedan was “nosed” into the cable barrier that divides the highway.

The sedan had caught on fire, and Allen went straight to that car.

“With every passing second, the fire grew larger and hotter,” Ray said, reading from the citation. “As deputy Allen approached the burning vehicle, he observed a juvenile female laying on the ground near enough to the vehicle that it appeared as if her feet were in the fire.”

The young victim was lying face down and was not breathing.

“Without hesitation or regard for his own safety, deputy Allen rolled the victim over and began administering lifesaving first aid and CPR,” the citation reads. “While Deputy Allen was performing first aid, there were several small explosions inside the vehicle and the fire was getting dangerously close to the lifesaving location. Deputy Allen stopped the lifesaving CPR long enough to move the young victim a safe distance from the dangerous situation.

“Deputy Allen put his life in danger to try to save the life of a child he didn’t know. Deputy Allen proved by practice he is willing to walk through fire for the citizens of Canadian County. By any definition, Jeff Allen is a hero.”

After the presentation, District 2 County Commissioner Dave Anderson of Mustang thanked Post 353 members “for all the Legion does to recognize public service.”

“Thank you for providing us people who are easy to recognize!” Ray replied.

Mustang American Legion Post 353 supports Mustang-area veterans and their community through the American Legion’s “four pillars” – veterans affairs and rehabilitation, national security, Americanism, and children and youth.

FOUR PEOPLE DIED IN CRASH

Ashley Louise Ricks, 34, faces four counts of first-degree manslaughter in Canadian County District Court for her role in the October 2020 multi-fatality crash.

Canadian County prosecutors allege Ricks was driving under the influence of alcohol in the wrong direction “at excessive speeds” on I-40 when the collision occurred.

Ricks was driving a 2017 Jeep Renegade east in the westbound lanes of I-40 when she collided head-on with a 2003 Hyundai heading west, according to an Oklahoma Highway Patrol report.

The impact sent the Jeep into a ditch, where it overturned. The Hyundai went into the center median and burst into flames while its four occupants were trapped inside, the OHP report indicates.

The driver and three passengers in the Hyundai died from injuries suffered in the crash: Laura Jones, Carol Jones, Lilly Homant (age 8), and Zachary Homant (age 12).

Witnesses had called 911 to report the Jeep was speeding and traveling the wrong way on I-40 before the collision, according to court documents.

A jury trial for Ricks is set to begin Sept. 13 before District Judge Paul Hesse in Canadian County District Court. Ricks is being held without bond at the Canadian County Jail.

If convicted on four counts of first-degree manslaughter, the defendant faces not less than 16 years in prison.

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