ELMORE COUNTY, Idaho — 16-year-old Austin Spies spent his summer with his new horse Dewalt on the local rodeo circuit. This Mountain Home High School student has been riding and roping since he was just a little boy. Dewalt has been a great partner for him.
"He's an excellent horse," Austin said. "I team rope and calf rope."
Austin was on the way home from a rodeo in July, when he spotted a semi on fire on the interstate.
"It was about 3:00 when I was coming through Hammett and saw the fire," he said. "I was three or four miles back and I could see the smoke flying, and I was going to get off at the first exit and miss it all, but I decided to go see what was happening. The whole front of the trailer was on fire and cows were on the interstate. I had a horse and didn't have anywhere to be so I may as well help."
The truck was still filled with cattle.
"I think there were thirty-five of them on the truck, and twelve on the freeway and the rest ran back down the highway," Austin said. "So, I jumped out in a halter and bareback and rode Dewalt across the bridge. I ended up tying him up and helping jump cows out the back of the trailer, so nothing was getting burnt too bad. Once everything was out and the driver was safe, I jumped back on and went and got cows off the freeway and tried to gather the rest of them that were spread across Hammett."
Elmore County Sheriff Mike Hollinshead heard about what he did and decided to honor the boy with a special ceremony. He presented him with a certificate, and a big thank you. He says Austin, no doubt, prevented some major traffic accidents and the loss of more cattle, or even worse.
But this isn't the first time Austin has met the sheriff. You could say they have "worked" together before, in a way.
"His name looked very familiar," Sheriff Hollinshead said. "It looked very familiar because in 2017 he was in school, and he was a chosen one to participate in a program where you can be sheriff for the day, mayor for the day, police chief for the day, etc. This young man was my sheriff for the day, and we had a lot of fun."
During the award ceremony, Hollinshead went on to make Austin a special deputy for Elmore County, and invited him to come back and join his team when he was old enough.
"It's our opinion the world certainly needs more Austin Spies," Hollinshead said.
Who knows? Maybe a career with the Elmore County Sheriff's Office is in Austin's future. His mom, Blakie Spies, was not surprised by all the praise for her son.
"Just because that's the kind of kid he is," Blakie said. "He always had a rope in his hand. Always, and still does. I was very pleased that they honored him. He deserves it. Very much."
As you may expect, Austin is a humble hero. He wasn't sure what all the fuss was about. He said, he just did what had to be done.
"It was unneeded, I would have done it for free any day," he said. "But it's an honor to help and to have that opportunity."
Austin was also awarded gift cards from D & B Supply and from the Grateful Trucking Company.
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