Several members of the Wellington County OPP were honoured on May 28 at the annual Western Region OPP awards ceremony.
County officers and received recognition for years of service and for acts of valour. Local citizens were also recognized for acts of valour.
Deputy Commissioner Chris Lewis and Chief Superintendent Bill Dennis presented the awards and congratulated the recipients.
Constables Robert Bortalato and Kathleen Carberry received a Commissioner’s Commendation for entering several burning buildings in Fergus on March 18, 2007 and evacuating the residents. As a result of their actions, no one was injured in that blaze.
Constables Mark Grasman, James Mackenzie, and Steven Skanes received a Commissioner’s Citation for lifesaving and a St. John Priory Award for saving the life of a suicidal woman in Salem on Sep. 27. The quick actions of officers saved a woman who attempted to hang herself. Officers cut her down and provided first aid until she was taken to hospital.
Constables David O’Leary, Steven Maxwell, and Keith Robb received a Commissioner’s Citation for lifesaving and a St. John Priory Award for saving the life of a man who fell through the ice into the Grand River in Fergus on Feb. 9. They provided first aid until he was transported to hospital. Their quick actions saved the life of the man who was suffering from extreme hypothermia.
Four members of the county OPP received the Police Exemplary Service medal. Constables Patrice Gonzalez and Laurie Munro, as well as Sergeants Patrick Horrigan and Michael Gordon received the award that recognizes their respective 20 years of police service in Canada.
One member, Constable Gary Sproule, received his Police Exemplary Service Bar, which recognizes he has completed 30 years of police service in Canada.
Many civilians were recognized at the ceremony as well:
Auxiliary Staff Sergeant Bruce McGimsie, of the county OPP Auxiliary Unit, received two awards. He received a Commissioner’s Citation for bravery in relation to an incident that occurred on May 24, 1996 in Bissell Park in Elora. The volunteer officer was working nights when he stumbled across some drug activity. He pursued one of the suspects and attempted to apprehend him. During the struggle, both parties fell into the Grand River where the struggle continued. The struggle lasted for seven to eight minutes in the frigid and fast running water.
The officer nearly drowned and suffered multiple abrasions. The suspect was eventually able to escape. The officer also received a Commissioner’s Letter for an incident on June 23, 1995 where he assisted an officer in disarming a suicidal female armed with a knife. His quick actions helped prevent the female from injuring herself and the officer.
Marlene Thom, a civilian member of county OPP, received her Quarter Century pin. It recognizes 25 years of service to the Province of Ontario.
Brandon Soehner, 5, and Kaylin Stuckless, 8, of Drayton, received a Commissioner’s Citation for lifesaving and a St. John Priory Award for an incident that occurred on Nov. 18, 2007. Their 6-year-old brother fell through the ice into the Conestogo River in Drayton. Kaylin jumped into the river and pulled him to safety while Brandon ran to get help. Their quick actions helped save the life of their brother.
Dan Kerr, 42, of Paisley, received a Commissioner’s Commendation for his selfless actions to aid two persons who were seriously injured in a head-on collision on Wellington County Road 109 on Oct. 20. He provided first aid to the occupants of an overturned vehicle until they could be extricated and transported to hospital.