YPD hands out annual awards
By Joe Gorman
Police Chief Robin Lees said Thursday during the department’s annual awards ceremony that the Lifesaving Award is the highest award given by the department.
The five recipients this year for two separate incidents have one thing in common: They all had to deal with fire.
Officers Michael Medvec, Tim Edwards and Ken Bielik won the award for their actions early Nov. 6, when they pulled the mother of a murder victim out of a burning home on Cleveland Street.
Just a couple of weeks later, on Nov. 24, a man had set himself on fire after beating his girlfriend and dousing her with gasoline at a Megan Circle home and trying to blow up the house by cutting the natural-gas line. Officers Jeffrey Roberts and Nick Marciano responded and were faced with the suspect, Ronald Magby, 57, running out of the house on fire. The officers used their electronic stun weapon on Magby, pulled him away from the home and put out the fire on him. They also received the award for their actions that day.
Medvec, Edwards and Bielik responded about 3 a.m. Nov. 6 to an unknown trouble alarm at the home on Cleveland Street. When they arrived, they heard noises coming from the back of the home where the window air conditioner was and saw flames inside the home. The officers took the air conditioner out of the window, then got Denise Johnson, mother of Erika Huff, 41, out of the home by pulling her through a window. Johnson had been beaten severely, and Huff was dead. The man accused of beating her, Lance Hundley, was inside the home.
Lees told Thursday’s audience that two of the officers – who Bielik said were Medvec and Edwards – got breathing gear from firefighters there and went back inside and took Hundley into custody.
Johnson was at the ceremony and said she is very thankful to all three officers.
“I just wanted to thank them for giving me a second chance at life,” Johnson said. She hugged Medvec after he received his award.
Bielik and Edwards both said they just reacted to the situation when they arrived. Medvec declined to speak.
“You don’t really think about it,” Bielik said. “You just react.”
Edwards said reacting naturally in a situation like that comes down to not only training but more importantly the quality of the officers who are on the call with him.
“I truly trust the people I work with,” said Edwards, who won a Lifesaving Award last year for performing CPR on a stricken infant on the South Side. “When you work with good people, you know they got your back.”
Edwards, Medvec and Bielik are relatively new hires, but Roberts and Marciano are veteran officers who were confronted with the unusual sight of a man running out of a house on fire. Lees said both incidents are unusual in the fact that not only was a life saved in each one, but responding officers also faced a violent situation.
Marciano was not at the ceremony, and Roberts declined to comment.
A total of 140 awards were given in six categories to 66 officers at the ceremony, plus one civilian won an award for helping police to catch a burglary suspect.