The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

May 9, 2014

GOTL police officers honored for heroic actions

GENEVA-ON-THE-LAKE — Two officers were commended Monday for their heroic actions that saved a woman who had driven on to thin ice in March.

Officer Robert Mack and Sergeant Scott Vanderlind responded to a call from a woman concerned that her sister was in distress and possibly in danger at Breakwater Beach.

They arrived on scene to find a car on the frozen lake. GOTL Chief of Police Tim Bruckman said, “She drove down a maybe 30 foot drop, maybe more, and drove out on to the ice.”

He said Mack and Vanderlind, as well as Ashtabula County Sheriff Department Sergeant Joe Niemi and Sheriff Deputy Scott Davis worked together to safely remove the victim, who was unconscious, but breathing, and her car from the ice.

“The two departments working together is what brought about the positive outcome,” Bruckman said. “It was about five inches of ice over 15 feet of ice cold water. We’re glad that no one got hurt, or worse.”

GOTL Mayor Dave Nelson presented letters of commendation to Mack and Vanderlind at Monday’s village council meeting. The letter notes that Vanderlind quickly removed his duty belt in case the need arose for him to enter the water.

“It was determined that you, the officers, had been working on thin, melting ice above 15 feet of freezing water. You had placed yourselves in danger to help a citizen in need and your extreme professionalism saved the life of a young woman,” the letter states. “Officers of your caliber working together elevate the level of service and protection for all the residents of Ashtabula County. We are lucky to have you here!”

Nelson said he recently learned that the rescue happened after dark. “They conducted the entire rescue in the dark,” he said. “They couldn’t even get the car out until the next day because there was that much of a danger of it crashing through the ice.”

“They did a great job and they don’t get the credit they deserve, so it was nice to be able to recognize the good work they did,” Nelson said. “I couldn’t be prouder of these guys. They did a good job and saved a young woman’s life.”

The officers were recognized last month by the Ashtabula County Sheriff Department for their outstanding police work.

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