ELLSWORTH, Maine — An officer with the Ellsworth Police Department was honored by his peers last weekend with a heroism award for rescuing a man from a burning car in October.
In the early-morning hours of Oct. 9, Officer Andrew Weatherbee responded to a call about a car that had driven off Bayside Road, a rural street that extends from downtown Ellsworth. The car had rolled over and was beginning to burn with the driver still inside, but bystanders had been unable to open the vehicle.
With flames engulfing the engine, Weatherbee quickly shattered the car’s rear window using his collapsible baton and pulled the victim from the vehicle just as the fire began entering the passenger compartment, Weatherbee’s supervising officer said at the time.
The driver — 33-year-old Shaun Parsons of Tremont — was flown by LifeFlight helicopter to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor for treatment of injuries not considered life-threatening.
On Saturday, Weatherbee received the Maine Association of Police’s heroism award during the organization’s annual banquet, held in Portland. Criteria for the award states that the recipient is someone who, “under adverse conditions, prevents a death or serious injury” during an incident that posed “some degree of hazard to life and limb” to the officer.
Ellsworth Police Chief John DeLeo said the award was well deserved because Parsons likely would have been severely burned or killed had Weatherbee not acted so quickly despite the obvious danger to himself.
“It was a great job on his part,” DeLeo said. “Without even thinking about it, he broke the window and dragged the guy out.”
Weatherbee said while he knew he had been nominated, he didn’t learn that he had won until Saturday night’s banquet, where he was presented with a plaque.
He said it was an honor to be recognized by his colleagues but added modestly that he was only doing his job.
“It’s not needed,” Weatherbee said of the award, “but it is always nice.”