Wellington OPP officers honoured at ceremony

The West Region OPP Community Safety Division held its annual Awards and Recognition Ceremony here on Nov. 12.

OPP Commissioner Vince Hawkes recognized citizens and officers for their acts of bravery, lifesaving and long service to citizens of Ontario.

“I was very proud as the detachment manager of Wellington County OPP to … watch our officers and citizens of Wellington County to be recognized for their bravery, life-saving efforts and long standing service,” said OPP staff sergeant Victoria Dawson.

Wellington constables Cheri Rockefeller and Barry Reid and Sgt. Deb Anderson were among those recognized for 20 years of “Police Exemplary Service.”

Another four Wellington officers and a local resident each received a Commissioner’s Citation for Lifesaving.

VSA call

Wellington constables Joshua de Bock and Ian Donaldson responded to a 911 call regarding a 74-year-old male that had choked and did not have any vital signs. The officers immediately took over CPR until paramedics and fire personnel arrived and continued resuscitation efforts. A pulse was obtained and the victim was transported to a local hospital. Despite the efforts of all involved, the victim later died in hospital.

Woman with knife

In another incident, officers David Banasik and Ian Donaldson responded to a report of a 28-year-old female on a bridge with a knife.

The officers quickly located the female who had a large kitchen knife held to her throat.

“Police spoke to her for several minutes, established a rapport and gained her trust,” officials said. She disclosed that she suffered from mental health issues and wished to end her life.

The officers convinced her to lower the knife, then deployed a conductive energy weapon, which incapacitated her. She was apprehended under the Mental Health Act.

Vehicle rollover

A third incident involved officer Aleisha Lusk responding to a call for a serious vehicle rollover and fire.

A witness advised a young male and female had survived the collision, but fled the scene.

The weather at the time was cold and damp with light snow/sleet falling. Officers were also advised that the two were inappropriately dressed for the weather and were suffering injuries from the collision.

Officers on scene set up containment and the Emergency Response Team and Canine Unit attended to commence a search. The suspects were eventually located in a thick, swampy bush area huddled together and were taken into custody without incident. The extrication of the two suspects took approximately two hours due to the thick bush and the suspect’s inability to walk properly due to hypothermia, frostbite and injuries from the collision.

If they had not been located by officers, there is a great likelihood that the two would have died from hypothermia, police say.

Tragedy at soccer game

Another incident involved Tod Skipper, an off-duty auxiliary officer with Waterloo Regional Police Service that was watching his son’s soccer game in Drayton.

During the game one of the players collapsed on the field and was not breathing. Skipper immediately attended to the 14-year-old boy and started CPR while someone else called 911. The auxiliary officer continued CPR and chest compressions until emergency services arrived and took over. The boy was transported to hospital by ambulance and later passed away.

Fire tragedy averted

Lastly, Stephen Riopel, a Wellington County resident, was on his way to work in the early morning hours when he observed flames and smoke coming from a deck area of his neighbour’s home. Riopel managed to wake up the two residents, who were asleep upstairs, and his wife called 911. He ensured the couple and their pet got out of the residence safely. The fire department extinguished the fire.