In recognition of Police week, the Wright County Sheriff’s Office held their annual awards ceremony on Tuesday, May 13th. Ten citizens and one employee were recognized for their selfless acts of courage.
Pictured at the awards ceremony are: James Hessler, Paula Paumen, Ronald Bodin, George Thole, Elaine Thole, Sheriff Joe Hagerty, Pam Brunner, Gail King and Russell Johnson. Not shown: Theodore Laporte, Jerry Brown and Adam Arnquist. Each received a commendation from the WCSO at last week’s meeting of the Wright County Commission.
Here’s a look at their award-winning acts of courage:
Employee Award of Recognition: Pam Brunner – A Wright County Dispatcher, Brunner received a 911 call on Oct. 20, 2013 from a woman who stated her husband had a gun and was believed to be “suicidal.” The caller proceeded to lock herself in the bathroom, and dispatcher Brunner remained on the line with her for about two and a half hours. Brunner was able to calm the caller down and obtain valuable information for responding WCSO units, which allowed for a peaceful and safe resolution to the incident. Nominated by fellow Wright County Dispatcher Heather Pomeroy.
Citizens Letter of Recognition: Jerry Brown and Adam Arnquist – Deputies from the WCSO responded to a residential fire on 74th Street Northeast in Otsego on July 20, 2013. Upon arrival, the found flames and smoke coming from the side of the garage and home. Neighbors saw the smoke and had immediately dialed 911 and began efforts to contain the fire.
Deputies entered the residence to make sure all occupants were out, and to make sure the fire had not spread from the garage to the main living area.
Meanwhile, neighbors Adam Arnquist and Jerry Brown continually worked at hosing down the fire with water, and assisted with removing items of property from inside the garage until firefighters from Albertville Fire Department arrived on scene.
Brown and Arnquist displayed exceptional concern and acted without hesitation. It is because of their quick actions the fire did not spread to the rest of the home and damage was contained to a single area in the garage. Through their observations and actions the two neighbors gave an exceptional example of what it means to be a good neighbor and citizen. Nominated by Deputy Jessica Miller.
Citizens Award of Merit: Gail King and Lowell Johnson – At 10:55 p.m. on the night of Jan. 14, 2012, deputies were called to Lake Charlotte on the report that a snowmobile and/or an ATV had gone through the lake’s ice.
Upon arrival, deputies spoke to Gail King, who stated he witnessed a snowmobile driving across the lake without a headlight, but noticed the red taillights. He then heard a crashing, or possibly ice crunching, and no longer saw taillights.
King then went to neighbor Lowell Johnson’s home and told him what he’d seen. The two went out on their ATVs in an attempt to determine what had happened and possibly help.
Approaching the area, the two men noticed the snowmobile tracks, but Johnson and his ATV went through the ice. King threw Johnson a rope and was able to successfully pull his neighbor from the water. The two men then contacted law enforcement. Nominated by Sgt. Brian Johnson.
Citizens Letter of Recognition: George and Elaine Thole – Two brothers were fishing on Maple Lake on July 11, 2013 when their boat capsized and both men went into the water without life jackets.
While one of the brothers was able to hang on to the capsized boat, the other man was not able to. The Tholes were able to get the man and hold on to him until the Maple Lake Fire Department arrived to complete the rescue.
Though the Tholes would probably tell everyone they were just “fishing in the right spot at the right time,” their safety was still at risk in their rescue attempt. Nominated by WCSO Staff.
Citizens Letter of Recognition: James Hessler and Paula Paumen – The Wright County Sheriff’s Office was called to a rollover crash on Nov. 25, 2013 near Chatham Township (west of Buffalo). Upon arrival, Deputy Erkens found a vehicle that was upside down, and had broken through the ice of South Twin Lake. The cab of the vehicle was submerged in water, with the vehicle only being held above the ice by the hood and trunk.
“Good Samaritans” Paula Paumen and James Hessler located occupants of the vehicle. Investigations show Hessler assisted two male occupants of the vehicle and got them out by opening the trunk lid, allowing them to crawl out onto the ice.
Paumen and Hessler each placed a victim in their vehicle and wrapped them in blankets in an attempt to warm them up.
Without the help of Paumen and Hessler, the injuries to the two men could have been worse, or potentially fatal. Nominated by Deputy Russ Erkens.
Citizens Letter of Recognition: Theodore Laporte – On Oct. 10, 2013, WCSO was dispatched to a motor vehicle accident with injury in French Lake Township. Upon arrival, Deputy Joleen Hartmann noticed the vehicle was on its side, and the cab of the vehicle was fully engulfed in flames.
The occupant, a man, was away from the scene but had burns on his arms, chest and face.
An interview with Theodore Laporte revealed that Laporte had driven up to the scene and witnessed the driver, in shock, walking near the vehicle with his shirt on fire.
Laporte quickly removed the driver’s shirt and smothered the flames preventing more burns. The driver was seriously injured, with 45 percent of his body burned, but the quick thinking of Laporte prevented what could have been a fatal situation. Nominated by Deputy Joleen Hartmann.
Citizens Letter of Recognition: Ronald Bodin – In the early morning hours of Sept. 23, 2013, around 5:30 a.m., Bodin was duck hunting on the north end of Pelican Lake in Monticello Township.
Bodin said he heard a person yelling for help, so he started searching. He found the individual south of the public access, hanging on to an overturned boat. Bodin quickly called the Sheriff’s office to advise he was south of the access, with the victim.
Bodin advised the dispatcher the victim was ‘very cold’ and needed assistance immediately. Dispatchers told Bodin that a rescue boat was still a few minutes out from the access.
At that point, Bodin decided to take matters into his own hands, launching his duck boat, and rescuing the victim. He transported the man to a boat access, where an ambulance later met them.
The victim’s core temperature had dropped to a dangerous level, and the man was suffering from hypothermia. But officials determined Bodin’s actions saved him from an even more dangerous situation by bringing him to safety. Nominated by Deputy Hermansen.