RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A former Highway Patrolman shot in the line of duty, and the man who flew him to the hospital, received honors Tuesday in Raleigh more than 40 years after their paths first crossed.
In October 1975, Harry Stegall was a 22-year-old Highway Patrolman. He was shot multiple times by a driver after he pulled the driver over for driving 55 miles per hour in a 66 mile per hour zone in Laurinburg.
He said the driver shot him in the chest, neck, shoulder and hip.
Once on the ground, he said the driver, who was later caught, took the gun from Stegall’s holster, stood between his legs and pointed the gun at him. A car drove by, and the shooter left and drove off.
Stegall radioed for help.
Army medivac helicopter pilot Richard Seifried of the 57th Medical Detachment at Fort Bragg was flying and heard the call. He coordinated to pick Stegall in a field near the local hospital so he could transport him for care in Chapel Hill.
The weather was terrible, Seifried said. He battled low visibility, rain and fog – flying just above the treetops.
“Letting him lay in the back of our helicopter and dying was not an option. I had a crew that was professional enough and dedicated enough where they agreed that we were going to do what it was going to take and take the risk and save Harry,” Seifried said.
The two men did not see one another again for more than 40 years – in fact they were not even sure of each other’s names.
Seifried found the former patrolman, who spent two years on the Highway Patrol force after his injuries, by finding training videos Stegall now does for the Highway Patrol.
The two men met in person earlier this year in Mooresville for the first time since that day four decades ago.
That led to the awards ceremony Tuesday at the Highway Patrol station on Old Garner Road in Raleigh.
Both men were on stage as Seifried received the Colonel’s Appreciation Award. Much to Stegall’s surprise, he also walked away with an award. The Highway Patrol surprised him with its Purple Heart Award.
“I almost cried. I’m still overwhelmed with emotion and gratitude because this whole thing started out for recognition for my friend, Richard,” he said.
Seifried, who lives in Statesville, and Stegall, who lives near North Myrtle Beach, said they have a life-long bond and have developed a deep friendship.