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Cumberland deputy pulls pets, holiday gifts from burning home

Posted December 17, 2010

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— An off-duty Cumberland County deputy saved Christmas for a Stedman family Thursday when he rushed into their burning home to rescue their pets and salvage some of their holiday presents.

"They went above and beyond the call of duty. I cannot say enough about our public servants," homeowner Allen Pier said Friday.

Pier said his wife called him shortly after 7:30 p.m. Thursday to report that their home, at 5348 Clinton Road, was on fire. So, he sped toward home and zoomed past Sgt. Tatum Buckley, who was on his way home.

"I knew something was wrong, but he (was) going the opposite way of the hospital, so I couldn't figure it out," Buckley said.

The deputy turned on his blue lights and pulled Pier over.

"As soon as I get out of the car, he sticks his arm out the window," Buckley said, noting Pier explained why he was speeding home.

"I said, 'You can go, but you can't run 90 miles per hour down the highway,'" Buckley said.

Sgt. Tatum Buckley Cumberland deputy pulls pets, holiday gifts from burning home

By the time the two reached Pier's home, it was engulfed in flames, and Pier's wife was trying to get inside to save the family's pets and Christmas presents.

"They were trying to get her to get back, and I said, 'I'll make a deal with you. If you get back and get out the way, I'll try and find the dogs,'" Buckley said.

He ran inside the house, which had a full tank of kerosene sitting nearby, and managed to save a dog, three cats and some gifts.

"Looking back on it now, was it real smart going into a house that's on fire? I don't know, but I felt I'd be OK," Buckley said. "I didn't go upstairs. I think I stayed within my limitations, and I did what I guess anybody else would've done."

The cause of the fire, which left the home and a pickup truck in ruins, remains under investigation. Despite his loss, Pier said that Buckley gave his family the best holiday present possible.

"For losing your house this close to Christmas, it turned out to be good because the family was safe," he said.


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  • Mike67 Dec 17, 2010

    Way to go Sgt Buckley, job well done!!!

  • pamelaworley1969 Dec 17, 2010

    thank you to the brave officer who put his life at risk to help his fellow man and sorry to the family on the loss of your home but very glad everyone is ok including the pets.

  • meta4csw Dec 17, 2010

    These are the men and women running in when we run out, run towards when we run away. The kind of person this work attracts also at times engages in other high risk behavior that doesn't speak well of the profession. People are so quick to spit on LEOs when one does a bad thing, and it is right to have standards for them, but it is a package deal. Most find healthful outlets and some do not. Still, they are the ones running in when we run out. Even when they are in the wrong, they deserve respect and maybe even some help.
    God bless 'em all.

  • RB-1 Dec 17, 2010


    A Happy Christmas for all.

    Wonder how he saved the cats. They run when they're scared and they have 5 sharp ends unlike dogs which only have one.

    Anyway, blessed to hear their lives were saved.

  • working for deadbeats Dec 17, 2010

    Good job, Sarge!!

    Let me chime in for the golo anti-leo crowd. You should have been catching rapists, killers and solving who killed Jimmy Hoffa. Did I cover it? Oh wait and eating donuts. Hardy har har!

  • illegals--GO HOME Dec 17, 2010

    This is one of the stories that should make the front page. Someone doing something they did not have to do, but helping make the situation a bit better. Great job Sgt. Buckley.

  • Vietnam Vet Dec 17, 2010

    Sgt. Buckley you have acted in the highest tradition of law enforcement and public service! Thank you so very much for your dedication and your service!

  • mikeyj Dec 17, 2010

    AWESOME! I'd be a basket case without my sheltie.

  • rdmcswai Dec 17, 2010

    Sgt. Tatum Buckley, you are one of the everyday heroes that we need more of. Thank you so much for your service, and thank you to WRAL for posting this story!