BANGOR, Maine — Four officers from the Bangor Police Department have earned recognition from two state law enforcement associations for risking their own lives to save those of others.
On Saturday, Officers Timothy Shaw, Robert Hutchins and Doug Smith received awards from the Maine Association of Police for saving the life of a woman who was found lying on the ice of Kenduskeag Stream, Police Chief Ron Gastia reported in the city’s monthly employee newsletter.
In that incident, which occurred last March, Shaw was flagged down by a pedestrian who told him that a woman had fallen off the bridge on Washington Street and was lying on the ice below, near open water and in danger of being swept downstream.
After Shaw ventured out onto the thin ice to help the woman, Hutchins and Smith joined him, acting as a “human chain” that would have prevented drownings had the group broken through the ice.
The association also presented Shaw an award for defusing a potentially lethal incident in November 2008, when he entered — without backup — a Thomas Hill Road residence where a man armed with a revolver and who had an accomplice had assaulted three other men and were holding them at gunpoint.
Gastia’s letter of commendation to Shaw stated, that “because your actions were swift and decisive, you immediately gained control of the situation without any shots being fired and without further injury to the victims. It is also my belief that had you not taken such action, the likelihood of further, more serious injuries to the victims would have occurred. Because of you, their safety was guaranteed, and perhaps their lives were saved.”
Shaw, Hutchins and Smith will be honored again on Feb. 5, this time by the Maine Chiefs of Police, for their bravery in helping to save the woman on the ice. At their annual banquet in South Portland, the chiefs also will present Bangor Officer Rob Angelo a lifesaving award for saving the life of a woman who was threatening to jump off the Penobscot Bridge on Dec. 13, 2009.
In a memorandum to the chiefs association’s award committee, Gastia said that Angelo jumped over a barrier on the bridge and caught the woman after she let go of the railing and began to fall.
“A video of the event, captured on the in-car [camera] of one of the cruisers, depicts Officer Angelo’s feet, at one point, coming off the ground as he grabbed and held onto the woman.” Gastia pointed out that Officers Jim Hassard and Joe Baillargeon also grabbed the woman and helped Angelo pull her to safety.
“The railings along the bridge are not very high and when the officers leaned over, disregarding their own safety, there was a strong possibility they, too, could have been pulled over by the weight of the person falling,” Gastia wrote. “The Bangor Fire Department would not have been able to rescue all parties if they fell, and the fall and subsequent immersion would likely have been fatal.”