Cane reunited with rescued girl at annual banquet honoring heroes for year
By Bill Ryan
Sentinel-Tribune Staff Writer
PEMBERVILLE — "I actually
died. These people brought me back," said Steve Parsons, Waterville fire
chief, of seven honorees recognized for their life-saving efforts. His
words were labored as he fought back the tears.
Along with the tears, there
was laughter and many heartfelt thanks for those seven, 15 other people
and one four-legged friend that were honored Friday at the Black Swamp
Humanitarian Awards Banquet.
The largest group ever
recognized drew the largest gathering at the 16th annual event held at the
American Legion Hall.
Nine individuals were
recognized for risking their life; five were recognized as good
Samaritans; while a man and a Labrador retriever were awarded the first
certificates of merit for life-saving actions. The seven individuals who
helped with Parsons were recognized with the "Service to Others" award.
In the introduction, Rick
Van Mooy, master of ceremonies, said those being honored "distinguished
themselves by helping or serving their fellow human beings."
He noted that in most cases
they did not even know those they helped.
Parsons was at a fire school
teaching a class when he dropped to the floor, a victim needing the
treatment he was to teach.
"We talked about CPR," the
chief said of his class. "If they wouldn't have known it, I wouldn't be
here today. I can't tell you how grateful I am."
Pack noted that the special
shirt he was wearing that day, ripped as per standard procedure in such
treatment, has been turned into a pillow. Parsons was given a new shirt
from the school he was to teach with the words "I survived."
Sugar Cane and Sarah Boise
share a dinner spot at the head table.
A group of seven earned the
award for actions in helping Parsons survive cardiac arrest. Lorrie Dymon,
Tom Pack, Donna German, Al Conkle and Hollie Engle all came to his aid,
summoned help and called for a defibrillator. Chad Mapus, a Bowling Green
State University patrolman, quickly delivered the device; while the other
nominees administered CPR. When Mike Smith, a BG firefighter/paramedic
arrived, he used the device to revive the chief. Dymon and Mapus were
unable to attend.
Ray Walendzak, of the
Northwest Ohio Volunteer Firemen's' Association wrote in his nomination,
"Due to the quick response of these people, Chief Parsons is alive and
back to work. ... Their quick actions and teamwork saved the life of a
fellow firelighter and EMT."
Parsons stressed the
importance of learning CPR. "If you don't know CPR, learn it," he said.
This year was the first time
when certificates were given for life-saving actions. The new category for
the awards was instituted as a way to recognize those who saved the lives
of family or friends, as opposed to the Good Samaritan award for service
The last thing Rich Johann,
Sylvania, expected on Easter Sunday was to have to rescue his son from a
pond. The 2-year-old had gone exploring on a visit at friends near North
Baltimore and was discovered "bobbing in the water" by his parents. Johann
carried his son to shore and was able to clear water from his lungs and
begin rescue breathing. The boy made a full recovery. Johann was not able
to attend as his wife was giving birth to another child.
One of the hits of the
dinner was the first canine recipient, Sugar Cane, a Labrador retriever,
who was treated to her own steak dinner for her heroic efforts at the
Portage Quarry on June 12. A 7-year-old girl, Sara Boise, was swimming
with her older sister and a friend, when she drifted into water over her
head prompting Sugar Cane into the water and swam directly to Sara. She
was able to grab the dog's collar and she pulled her to the shallow area.
Sugar's owner, Jeff Rice,
brought the dog bad from their Florida home specifically for the dinner.
"She is very protective of
children," Rice said.
Heroes and lifesavers honored at humanitarian awards dinner
By Bill Ryan
Sentinel-Tribune Staff Writer
PEMBERVILLE — Words are
rarely enough to express emotions. When those emotions are tied to life
and death, the tears and hugs of thanks make words unnecessary.
Words were often difficult
during the 16th annual Black Swamp Humanitarian Awards, held Friday at the
American Legion Hall.
For those being honored,
they often saw their actions as ordinary when fate brought them together
with the people in need.
"It's something we, as humans, do for others when the time is right," said
Both Moser and Scott Leo
were among nine individuals honored for "Life Risk " actions. They pulled
Kathleen Rety and her daughter, Stephanie, from a burning car following an
accident on U.S. 20 near their home east of Stony Ridge. The Retv car was
struck from behind and pushed onto the highway where it was struck again.
Rety said she was sitting in
the car dazed, but thankful they had not been
hit by a semi truck when Moser and Leo arrived at the scene.
"I was sitting there, so
happy and euphoric, so warm. I didn't even realize why I was so warm,"
Rety said referring to the fire.
The men fought against a
damaged car and the flames to save the women, pulling them through a
"These men risked their
lives to pull us from our inferno," Rety wrote to the nominating
One of the most poignant
presentations of the night involved the Life Risk awards presented to Phil
Donaldson, Ron Simon, Robert Rideout, Charlie Haas and Pemberville Fire
Chief Herb Martin. The five men made heroic efforts to save Dale Starkey
from an explosion as he worked on a water heater at a friend's home in
Scotch Ridge. Though Starkey died, his family was grateful for the brief
time they had to spend with him after the incident.
Starkey's daughter, Brenda Schnitker, made the nomination and spoke on
"Because of their bravery
and quick thinking, we were fortunate enough to arrive at the scene and
spend some precious minutes without father," Schnitker said.
"One very important lesson I
have learned from this is take time to tell your family that you love
them," Schnitker said fighting the tears. "That morning I stopped by and
rustled my father's hair, not knowing that was the last time I could do
Schnitker and her brothers.
Bill, Mick, Duane, Keith and Kirk, showed their appreciation to each man.
Martin fought back tears. After 45 years in the business, he called the
incident "one of the toughest I ever had."
Noel Tammerine, of
Parrysburg, was recognized for helping to subdue an unruly passenger on an
airplane flight between Phoenix and Detroit. With the incidents of Sept.
11 on his mind, Tammerine and other passengers came to the aid of a flight
attendant. They restrained the belligerent man until the plane was
diverted and FBI agents took over. Tammerine was treated to a round of
applause by fellow passengers.
One incident produced both a
Life Risk and a Good Samaritan award. Paramedics Rhonda Kreais and her
partner, Rachael Kimball, were returning from a sunrise run whey saw smoke
rising in the Oakmont subdivision near Parrysburg. They tracked the smoke
to the home of Matthew and Anita Wilkin.
The paramedics roused the
sleeping family, saving the couple and their four daughters.
Kreais was recognized in the
Life Risk category for her efforts including dashing into the smoke-filled
home; while Kimball was noted a Good Samaritan for her efforts including
"We've always spoke of them
as our angels," Matthew Wilkin said.
"We're grateful for their
awareness of what was going on that night and being guided by what we
think as God to our home and saving us."
Two young people were among
the other "Good Samaritan" award recipients.
Jessica Cassavar was a
passenger on an Otsego school bus when the driver, Christine Kummerer,
lost control due to an undiagnosed brain tumor. Jessica pulled the
emergency brake and helped the driver call the bus garage for assistance.
"All I could do was keep
repeating, 'Stop the bus. Stop the bus,'"Kummerer recalled.
She said Jessica's brother,
Doug, though hearing impaired, was the first to hear her pleas. He
summoned his sister to action.
Jessica also thanked her
brother, calling the incident "a miracle" because of his hearing
"I'm very proud of both of
them," their father said.
The other young "Samaritan"
was Lucas Coleman, A Boy Scout, for his actions in saving James "Bo"
Fillhart. IN January, Lucas was home from school due to a heavy snowfall.
He saw commotion across a farm field.
Investigating, he found
Fillhart, a victim of a snowmobile accident.
The Scout went back home,
gathered blankets and called 9-1-1. He quickly returned to the victim's
side, covered him with the blankets and stayed by his side until rescuers
arrived. Fillhart was treated for broken bones in his neck, back, arm,
pelvis and ribs. Had Coleman tried to move the victim, further damage
would have been done.
"I'm proud of him," said
Rev. James Moffett, a humanitarian committee member and pastor of the
church that sponsors the troop.
Gary Bockbrader saved a
2-year-old neighbor boy from drowning in August 2003. Because of his
efforts, including jumping a fence, rescuing the submerged boy and
administering CPR, young Micah Fry was breathing on his own by the time
"Looking right there,"
Bockbrader said pointing to the Fry family, "That says it all."
Matt Fry called Bockbrader
his guardian angel.
Becky Walls noted the
importance of communication, the old-fashioned kind as well as cellular
phones for being able to help her and her husband, Eric, assist
authorities in capturing burglars. Because she had heard discussion about
burglars using a garage door truck in their heists, she was on alert when
they saw a similar truck at a neighbors. A cell phone call to the neighbor
proved their intuition correct and they pulled into the drive-way.
The burglars fled, but the
Walls pursued and summoned the sheriff's office who captured the burglars.
"I can only imagine what
would have happened had they not acted," said Julie Heuerman of her
neighbors' actions in foiling the burglary at their home.
Retriever lives up to his name by
rescuing girl at Portage
Sentinel Staff Photographer
A local girl has a
new best friend after being pulled from deep water by a big-hearted
Seven-year-old Sara Boise, of Bowling Green, was swimming with her sister
Kayla, 9, and another girl at nearby Portage Quarry Recreation Club last
weekend, on Saturday, when she found herself in over her head — literally.
Without prompting, a yellow Labrador retriever named Sugar Cane jumped
into the water and helped the little girl make it back to safe and shallow
"Sugar jumped in and swam out to her," said Stacy Heilman, Sara's older
half sister who also works at the recreation club. "Sara grabbed (Sugar
Cane's) collar and the dog pulled her to the shallow beach area where she
could touch bottom."
She said Sara, who just finished the first grade at Kenwood Elementary
School, now has a new best friend.
"Sugar must have sensed something was wrong," she said. "She just jumped
in to help her."
Recreation club owner Jeff Rice was a bit skeptical when first hearing
about his dog's plucky plunge to save Sara.
"The kids came up and were saying 'Sugar Cane saved Sara from the water,'"
Rice said this week. "I thought it was a fluke or some thing, that maybe
they were just playing in the water. But then some adults confirmed it, so
apparently it's true."
He said Sugar Cane is only 10 months old, the latest in a line of
Labradors that have graced the quarry grounds over the years.
Rice purchased the water dog from East Hill Labradors in Howell, Mich.
Labradors are known for their skill and strength in the water, making them
a favorite among hunters. Historically, they also were used as
"She's very powerful in the water," Rice said of his newest four-legged
Sarah Boise, 7,
hugs a Labrador named Sugar Cane at Portage Quarry