Central Ky. truck driver on saving jailer's life: 'I did what I had to do'

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NELSON COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - It started as a routine day at work, but it ended with a central Kentucky truck driver being hailed a hero. Nelson County sheriff's deputies say he helped save a jailer's life along the Blue Grass Parkway.

On Wednesday afternoon, Spencer County Jailer, Darrell Herndon, was attacked in his car by a prisoner while driving on that parkway near Bardstown.

Officials with the Nelson County Sheriff's Office say the juvenile inmate slipped out of his restraints and somehow managed to get through the safety screen that was between himself and Herndon. Once he got past the safety screen, he began choking the jailer from behind. Herndon was able to pull his cruiser over on the side of the roadway near mile marker 15, in order to protect himself.

A truck driver for Apollo Oil of Winchester, Clinton Blackburn, was driving in the opposite direction and stopped his truck.

"He flung his door open, and when I looked, I saw the prisoner was up through the glass and over in the seat and had him in a choke hold," said Clinton Blackburn, an Apollo Oil truck driver.

Deputies say as Blackburn approached the driver's side of the police cruiser, the jailer was able to exit the car and was released from being choked. As Herndon exited the car, the prisoner took his gun and disarmed him.

"I grabbed the gun and turned the gun into the dash," said Blackburn. "With my left hand, I turned it into the dash. And with my right hand, I grabbed the trigger, so I had both hands on the gun."

Deputies say the prisoner pointed the gun at both Herndon and Blackburn and threatened to kill them. However, the prisoner was not familiar with Herndon's firearm and was unable to fire it after he tried several times.

Investigators say Blackburn was then able to take the gun from the prisoner after a brief struggle and gave the gun back to Herndon who finally regained his composure.

"He was still gasping for breath and trying to get his senses back," said Blackburn.

Both the jailer and Blackburn were able to get the juvenile back into the cruiser until deputies with the Nelson County Sheriff's Office arrived. And for what Blackburn did, he's being called a hero, but Blackburn doesn't see it that way.

"They put their life on the line every day, and it's pay back," said Blackburn. "I did what I had to do. All I could think about was getting that man home."

Blackburn made it clear to us that the jailer's life was worth more to him, in that moment, than his own.

"I was willing to give mine to save his," said Blackburn.

Additional criminal charges are pending on the prisoner who attacked Herndon.

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