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‘I could feel it bleeding into my shoe’: Deputy recovering after being shot on I-79

Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 5:34 PM EDT
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BRIDGEPORT, W.Va (WDTV) - Upshur County Chief Deputy Mike Coffman spoke with 5 News about his harrowing experience leading up to and after he was shot in the leg by a gunman near exit 99 as well as the outpouring of support his family has received from the community.

“Nobody knew exactly what we were rolling into,” Chief Deputy Coffman said. “It came in as a multi-car wreck and someone waving a gun around, and then it just quickly escalated from that.”

It’s been a week since Upshur County Deputy Coffman responded to the call that would change his life.

“You know it’s not really any day that you just see someone pull their car across I-79 sideways or 33 or any road and just start shooting,” Coffman said. “I mean that’s very bizarre. I think it’s a really hard thing for me to wrap my mind around.”

Coffman was among the first to get to the scene at the Weston exit, just after the Lewis County Sheriff.

“Parked my car, put on my vest and starting assisting citizens to get them out of harms way because there were some that were way too close for what was unfolding,” Coffman said. “I was going to help Lewis County engage the suspect, but I didn’t make it that far.”

Coffman says he was just a few feet away from the trunk of his car to grab a rifle when a .308 round ripped through his leg.

“It was one of those … you know the dangers are there, but when it happened, I was kind of in disbelief a little bit that it actually happened.”

Coffman says the bullet, fired from a gunman who was posted up behind an SUV, just missed the bone but tore apart his leg muscle.

“Most of my problem was coming from the exit wound,” Coffman said. “The back of my leg, like I said, I couldn’t see it, but I could see my pants were ripped, and it was bleeding, and I could feel it bleeding into my shoe.”

Coffman says Lewis County Sheriff David Gosa helped him to safety, and Buckhannon firefighter Derek Long drove him in his squad car to the hospital.

“I knew I had to get medical attention, and I thought the scene was way too hot and uncontrolled to get the ambulance up to me,” Coffman said. “I think that would’ve put them in danger.”

Coffman says one of the first things he did was call his wife and kids who were on vacation more than 8 hours away.

“I got the bleeding under control on the way to the hospital, but my family was actually out of state on vacation, so I had to make that phone call, and that was my main concern,” Coffman said. “They didn’t see it anywhere else or hear it anywhere else. I wanted them to hear it from me first.”

“I was trying to stay calm and trying to keep my wife calm from flipping out, and I was able to tell her I had something to tell her. She listened to me that I was okay, but I had been shot, but I was alright,” Coffman continued.

Needless to say, they came right home and have been helping him around ever since.

Coffman says the community has been unbelievably supportive.

“You know, I couldn’t keep up with all the messages on social media,” Coffman said. “It’s been very overwhelming the amount of people that have reached out and helped, and we’re just blessed. Just really blessed.”

Coffman says the doctors are taking it one week at a time, but he’s hoping he can make a full recovery soon so he can get back to work.

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