JOHNSON COUNTY, Ill. - Johnson County Sheriff Elry Faulkner plans to retire next December, after he completes his 40th year in office. As of now, Faulkner holds the record for longest serving sheriff in Illinois history.
But his tenure took a tragic turn back in May of 2007. Faulkner was carrying a prisoner in his car, traveling on Interstate 57 through Franklin County. A fugitive leading police on a chase crossed the median of the interstate and crashed into Faulkner's squad car.
The sheriff spent a week in intensive care in a Cape Girardeau hospital, suffering from internal injuries and a torn diaphragm.
But Faulkner didn't let the serious injuries sideline him, instead, turning it into motivation to seek his tenth term.
For 39 years the sheriff's office in Johnson County belonged to Elry Faulkner. Next year on number forty, he'll let it go.
"I'll be honest with you. I don't really want to retire, but I know it's time," said Faulkner.
Faulkner said the technology of the day's passed him by.
"Somebody asked me the other day if I had an email. I said nope, don't have no email address," he said.
He wants someone younger to sit in his seat. Truthfully, they almost got their chance six years ago.
"I remember that guy coming across the interstate right at me, and I thought oh crap," he said.
Faulkner hit his lights trying to slow down traffic and protect citizens from a fugitive on the run. In the moments after the violent crash, he heard the EMTs talking but couldn't respond.
The sheriff said he was spared for a reason, and after the accident his gut told him to give it one more go.
"If it wasn't for the man above, if it wasn't for God, I wouldn't be sitting here," said Faulkner, "I just had that feeling. It's not time for you to quit. You've got to work."
Now Faulkner said it is the time to stop. But he has a warning for the candidates vying for his job. Do it right, and don't count him out.
"I told a couple people running, the only thing I'll promise you is if you come in here and mess this place up, don't treat people right, I'll just be 72 when the next election rolls around," he said.
Faulkner's term will be up in December 2014.
He tells us he wants to spend more time with his family and hopes he won't be bored.