Man thanks officers who saved his life from flesh-eating bacteria

It was an emotional moment when a man got to thank officers for saving his life.

WSBTV's Linda Stouffer was there the moment Alan Avery was able to hug and embrace the DeKalb County officers.

It was a year ago that Avery called to report someone breaking into his home five times.

“It’s not normal for someone to call back to back to back 911,” said DeKalb County officer T.P. Dunn.

Dunn, along with officer J.Q. Kelley and officer M. Poon, did exhaustive searches but there was no burglar, just something more serious going on with Avery.

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“He really believes people are breaking in,” Dunn said.

Avery refused medical treatment so Poon made a decision to call his husband.

“Asking me if there’s a history of mental illness or drug use, most importantly is he OK,” husband Michael Newton said.

Avery was not OK. He was hallucinating, in dangerous septic shock from a flesh-eating bacteria infection.

He spent weeks in a coma, eight painful surgeries and months of rehab. When they finally got him to the hospital, as the officers had been urging, doctors told Avery he could have been dead within an hour.

At DeKalb police headquarters Wednesday, he brought gift cards and gratefulness.

“Without you, I would not be here today,” Avery said. “I would be dead. Thank you, thank all of you.”

The officers said their crisis intervention training was key to looking beyond the first emergency.

“I'm just happy we could be a big part of that and do what we love to do, which is protect and serve,” Kelley said.

“Everything happens for a reason,” Poon said.

And that is why in that emotional hug, there was so much joy.

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