Courtesy Kat Kyp
Caroline Dorton was having dinner with her fiancé and a friend at a Chili’s Bar & Grill in Lake Mary, Florida on April 17, 2016 when she noticed a woman being dragged across the restaurant parking lot into some nearby bushes. Dorton, an Orange City firefighter, paramedic, and a mother of three, immediately sprang into action.
As the attacker fled on foot, she and another bystander, an unidentified nurse, rushed to the victim’s side and began tending to the injuries of 31-year-old Chericia Brown, who had suffered a stab wound. Moments later, a car driven by the attacker approached the scene and ran over the three individuals.
Law enforcement quickly discovered the attacker was Chericia’s estranged husband, 30-year-old Henry Brown III. After fleeing the scene, Brown would pick up the two kids he shared with Chericia from their babysitter, 4-year-old Henry IV and 1-year-old Aleah, and kill them both before he took his own life with a gun. Chericia later succumbed to her injures at Central Florida Regional Hospital.
As a result of her heroism and willingness to risk her safety despite knowing Chericia’s attacker was still at large when she rushed to help, Dorton suffered severe injuries. Parts of her neck and back were broken; her hip and knee suffered breaks as well. Dorton sustained nerve damage and loss of sensation in her legs and feet.
Dorton says she does not recall much of the incident. “The last thing I’d seen was [Chericia’s] face,” she remembers, “Next thing I knew I was in the hospital.”
If she could do things over, Dorton says she wouldn’t change the way she reacted and her choice to risk her safety to help Chericia. “You don’t say ‘Should I, shouldn’t I?’ Someone’s in trouble, I need to help.”
On June 11, a charity event organized by fellow firefighter-paramedic and coworker Kristi Campbell took place in Sanford, Florida, with all proceeds going to help Dorton during her recovery. Dorton is a nine-year veteran of the Orange City Fire Department, and hundreds of people, including firefighters from all over the state, came out to show their support. Among them was the crew from the Seminole County Fire Department that came to Dorton’s aide and helped safely transported her to the hospital the night of the attack.
Courtesy Kat Kyp
Of the outpouring of support that Dorton has felt from her community, she says, “Their prayers have been felt so much.” As for her plans for the future, she hopes to be back to work soon, and plans to eventually return to the field: “I love being out there.”
Courtesy Kristi Campbell