WARD, Ark. – After Ward senior patrolman Andy VanLente was accidently hit by a car while assisting a state trooper with a wreck, his hometown is sending their best wishes and praying for the best.
VanLente was hit Friday night and is currently at UAMS recovering from surgery. He will have multiple operations on his leg, foot, hip, and arm after sustaining serious injuries in the crash. His family says his injuries are non-life-threatening, although recovery will be slow.
While he works toward returning home, those in Ward are with him every step of the way.
Mayor Charles Gastineau remembers that Friday call, telling him VanLente had been returning from a dinner break when he saw Arkansas State Police troopers responding to a car wreck.
“He didn’t hesitate,” Gastineau remembers. “He jumped into action.”
Police say VanLente was standing outside of his car when he was hit by another vehicle passing by. Jumping into action, he unknowingly put his own life on the line, something neighbors say comes as no surprise.
“It’s just like the cops here, to stop and help somebody out,” said Carl Clendenin, who owns War Gurillaz Boxing Gym in town.
He says VanLente has been on everyone’s minds since this weekend, a feeling shared by those across town.
“We’ve all been thinking of him and keeping him in our prayers,” Clendenin added.
Even in Cabot, Tim Harrison’s prayer group at First Baptist Church has been dedicated to VanLente, with those that know the patrolman sharing stories and those that don’t praying for a quick recovery.
“You hear about it in big cities, but you don’t hear about it in Ward, Arkansas,” Harrison remarked. “God gives his toughest battles to his toughest warriors and we believe that [Andy is] one of those.”
For Gastineau, the reaction of the community has been a silver lining in the tragedy and a testament to how much one life can touch a community.
“The outpouring of love and prayer in this community and beyond is amazing,” Gastineau said.
Arkansas State Police is currently investigating the crash. At this time, no charges have been filed against the other driver and Ward police say they believe the hit was accidental.