Teen honored for comfort given to late officer

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Dalton Carter was first to reach Taulbee

By Linda Ireland

The city of Hodgenville recently honored a 15-year-old for compassion he showed to a dying police officer.

Dalton Carter was the first on the scene after Hodgenville Police Officer Mark Taulbee lost control of his cruiser while chasing a suspect.

Taulbee, 43, was ejected from his vehicle and died three hours later at University Hospital in Louisville.

The suspect he was chasing — Jason Avis — has been charged with wanton murder.

Dalton and other teens were visiting a friend’s home on Campbellsville Road on Sept. 16. About 3:15 a.m., they heard a loud noise but didn’t see anything when they looked outside.

Dalton went outside to roll up car windows because it was about to rain.

“That’s when I saw Officer Taulbee on the ground,” Dalton said. “He yelled for me.”

Daltontold the officer he “had to get him some help” but Taulbee grabbed him.

“He didn’t want me to leave,” Dalton said. He had to pull away from him.

Dalton went back to the house, asked a friend to call 911 and got a blanket for Taulbee. He stayed beside him until emergency service workers arrived.

The officer said his lower back was hurting so Dalton took off his belt.

“I talked to him and tried to make him as comfortable as I could,” he said.

Those acts of kindness were greatly appreciated by Taulbee’s family and co-workers, Hodgenville Mayor Terry Cruse said during a ceremony in Dalton’s honor. He presented the teen a key to the city.

Taulbee’s wife, Elizabeth, and children, Audra, 20, and Austin, 17, attended the ceremony, along with Dalton’s family, Police Chief Steve Johnson and Sgt. Marcus Jackson.

Elizabeth said knowing someone was with her husband while he was injured provided comfort to his family. She learned of Dalton’s service days after the crash.

The Taulbee children presented Dalton with a small, flag-themed keepsake box with a few of their father’s possessions inside.

“Don’t open it now,” Austin said. “Or we might all start crying.”

Dalton said receiving the plaque and keepsake was “awesome.”

“I’ve never had anything like that before,” he said.

Dalton is a sophomore at LaRue County High School and the son of Carrie Carter and Bradley Conatser. He also does farm work, such as stripping tobacco and working in hay.

He plans to keep in contact with Taulbee’s family.