MONROE COUNTY, MISS. (WCBI) – A Monroe County sheriff’s deputy is named Deputy of the Year for the state of Mississippi.
Monroe County Sheriff’s Deputy Zack Wilbanks had two main messages when he was named Deputy of the Year at the Mississippi Sheriff’s Association Conference in Biloxi.
“God’s will and what’s next, I wondered a lot why I was still here and Dylan’s not. I also asked myself what’s next and if I’m going to be spared what am I going to make of it, so that was probably my biggest thing. I look at a lot of things in life differently now, such as problems,” Deputy Wilbanks said.
Deputy Wilbanks and his partner, Deputy Dylan Pickle, were conducting a safety checkpoint on July 25th when both officers were struck by a car.
Deputy Pickle died from his injuries. Wilbanks was seriously injured and faced a long road to recovery.
“His story about what he’s been through in the loss of a friend, partner and physical loss he’s suffered the last year and how he has turned the corner and not only overcome but excelled in so many ways,” said Monroe County Sheriff Kevin Crook.
Sheriff Kevin Crook nominated Wilbanks for Deputy of the year and says the award is a testimony to the deputy’s perseverance, motivation, and determination. Deputy Wilbanks says he is blessed to work in the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department.
“Within six months he had passed the PT requirements we have here, after having a broken leg, crushed skull, and losing his hearing, just to do that was phenomenal, but not only did he make it back on the SWAT team, but he’s the leader of the SWAT team,” Sheriff Crook said.
“The whole time I was down, I was never left by myself, there was somebody from the sheriff’s office with me, every day the first month and they weren’t checking on me, they were checking on my wife, my kids,” Deputy Wilbanks said.
Deputy Wilbanks is working hard to overcome his injuries. he recently took part in a Memorial Day Murph workout, a goal he set weeks after the tragic accident.
Deputy Wilbanks says reaching that goal was important, but he doesn’t want his story to be all about him, he wants it to be about his friend, Deputy Dylan Pickle, and the support he’s received from the sheriff’s department, family, friends and even strangers.
Wilbanks is the second Monroe County Sheriff’s Deputy to win Deputy of the year for Mississippi in the past ten years.