Covington LA April 29 2011 A police officer sacrificed his life to save his young daughter when a tornado ripped through their campsite in Mississippi, part of the terrifying band of storms devastating the South.
As violent winds tore through their tent, Louisiana police Lieutenant Wade Sharp, 40, flung himself on top of the sleeping nine-year-old to shield her.
Moments later a huge sweetgum tree crashed through the canvas, hitting the lieutenant on the back of the head and killing him instantly, but leaving his daughter unharmed.
It was the final act of heroism in a 19-year career with the force, in which he had been decorated several times for bravery, twice saving lives by endangering his own.
Covington Police Chief Richard Palmisano told the Times-Picayune: ‘He was a hero all the way through his whole career, and was a hero to the end.’
He said: ‘Everyone always wanted to work with him. He was a joy to be around. He was an excellent, fantastic officer, well-liked. I never heard anything against him.’
He was head of the criminal investigations division and had been given the Medal of Valor, the highest award Covington Police Department can bestow, for risking his life to save a man from a burning house, despite not having breathing apparatus.
Another colleague, Captain Jack West, called him ‘a hell of an investigator’