Local corrections officer helps save woman's life

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – A corrections officer recently went above and beyond the call of duty, helping to save the life of a woman she just met.

Thousands of people walk through the doors of the J. Reuben Long Detention Center every week: some convicted of crimes, others trying to get their loved ones out of jail.

As a corrections officer, Sebrina Bellamy never knows who may walk up to her desk, but she will always remember them.

"To this day, I can remember their faces when they come back, and remember their voices on the phone," said Officer Sebrina Bellamy, on the force for 16 years.

Now, a local family will never forget her.

During a busy shift in September, the phone rang at the visitation desk where Bellamy was working. The woman on the other line demanded to speak to her.

"I was hesitant to get on the phone because I was helping someone else. She told my partner she wouldn't speak to anyone else," recalled Officer Bellamy.

Officer Bellamy's strong memory helped her to place the woman's voice on the other end of the phone. She had been in the Visitation Department just days earlier, scheduling a visit to see a loved one in jail.

Bellamy recalled during that visit. The woman opened up to her, telling her about how badly she missed her husband who had recently passed away, and that she didn't have the money to get her friend out of jail.

She felt a connection to the corrections officer, which is why a few days later, she called to talk. But this time, the conversation was unexpected.

"She told me she had nothing to live for," Officer Bellamy recalled. "She said, 'Ms. Bellamy, if you hang up this phone, I'm going to kill myself.'"

The words hit home, as Officer Bellamy's nephew had just committed suicide a few months earlier.

"That's what I thought of, and I just thought, if something happens to her, and I have to live with that, knowing I could have been the person to talk her out of it," she remembered.

Keeping her voice calm, Officer Bellamy kept her own emotions in check, trying to figure out where the woman was located.

"She said, 'as of right now, I am sticking clothes into the tailpipe of my car. I'm going to turn it on and kill myself,'" Officer Bellamy continued.

Working to distract her, to keep her from turning on the car, Bellamy began asking the woman about her family.

"She said, 'don't worry about it, they wouldn't care. My family doesn't care about me,'" Bellamy recalled.

Afraid to get off the phone with her, Bellamy used another phone to call 911 while keeping the woman on the line, coaxing her to get out of the car.

"She says, 'you're going to send the police? I've never been in trouble and they're going to handcuff me.' But I told her that wouldn't happen," Bellamy said, reassuring the woman they were there to help.

She stayed on the phone as emergency responders arrived at the woman's house and brought her to the hospital.

"They told me she was going to do it. That when they got there, they found the clothes in her tailpipe. When she got to the hospital, she talked about how she had nothing. She was just so depressed," explained Officer Bellamy.

After hanging up the phone, Officer Bellamy wasn't giving up. She decided to call the woman's family.

"I called her mom, she was so happy I called her," recalled Bellamy. "Her mom hadn't seen her in a year in a half, her sister in three years, and a brother who hadn't talked to her in six years. But, they all came down to check on her."

Officer Bellamy continues to check on her, as well.

Once out of the hospital, the woman would come to the Visitation Department to sit and talk to the Corrections Officer.

"She asked, 'Ms. Bellamy, can I come up there and sit with you to talk?' I said, 'if that's what it will take to help you live. We can sit and talk, I will stop what I am doing to talk to you.'"

True to her word, they continue to talk on the phone once in awhile. The woman calls Officer Bellamy her Angel.

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