Griffis honors couple for assisting deputies

Candra Pickett said she never expected recognition from the Ector County Sheriff’s Office after her and her husband, Roy, helped the law enforcement agency take care of four children that were involved in a high-speed pursuit.

On April 9, a silver GMC Yukon driven by 26-year-old Sarah Bianca Tavarez was stopped in front of the Pickett’s house in the 10 block of Dartmouth Circle, an ECSO affidavit said.

There were four children inside the vehicle and that’s when the Picketts, who have nine grandchildren and “quite a few” great-grandchildren, sprang to action to offer assistance to the ECSO deputies at the scene.

“It took a little while because (the four children) were so traumatized,” Candra Pickett said. “Our grandchildren came from down the street and played with them.”

Ector County Sheriff Mike Griffis honored the Picketts with a Commendation for Citizen Assistance Award on Tuesday night in the Ector County Commissioners’ Courtroom.

The husband and wife duo, who have been married for 48 years, were the first of seven recipients to get their award.

Roy Pickett said he’s grateful to receive the recognition, but added it was a complete neighborhood effort. The Picketts and their neighbors provided food, toys and diapers for the children.

“If those would have been our grandkids, we would have certainly wanted someone to step up and take care of them,” Roy Pickett said. “We felt very sorry for them. A couple of them were screaming bloody murder inside the vehicle. They didn’t know what was going on. Anyone would have done it; there’s no doubt. Your heart would have gone out to them.”

That day ECSO deputies responded to the Dollar General located at 822 W. 87th St., in reference to a theft, an affidavit stated. Dollar General employees reportedly pointed out a silver GMC Yukon was driving in the grass behind the building at a high rate of speed.

Deputies activated their lights and sirens and attempted to stop the Yukon, the affidavit said.

The Yukon accelerated, drove through a drainage ditch in the 800 block of West 87th Street, and reached speeds of 60 mph in the residential area before driving into the Pickett’s front yard.

“They nearly ran into our house,” Candra Pickett said. “We had two cars in the driveway. I don’t how the woman got by without hitting the house and it would have been a lot worse for the kiddos.”

Tavarez was arrested and charged with evading arrest or detention with a vehicle, a third-degree felony, and abandoning or endangering a child with criminal negligence, a state jail felony. She was also charged with tampering or fabricating physical evidence, a third-degree felony, after she stated that she left two white Alprazolam pills in back of an ECSO patrol unit that transported her to the Ector County Law Enforcement Center, an affidavit stated.

Tavarez had three bonds totaling $15,000 and posted bail on April 10, jail records show. The children were released to Child Protective Services, Griffis said in a phone interview Wednesday afternoon.

During Tuesday’s ceremony, Griffis gave out the Purple Heart award to ECSO investigator Javier Leyva, who was shot in the upper left leg in 2014. Leyva returned to ECSO after rehabilitation and continued his duties.

ECSO deputies Tommy Gain and Matt McCrury and detention officer James Poor each received a certificate of merit. Milton Tharp, chief deputy/Reserve Unit, and Henry Clark were each honored with the Sheriff’s Commendation Award.