Five Wilmington Police Officers and a private citizen were honored at the March 24 City Council Meeting.
Officer Amy Gospodarek, Detective Joseph LaChapelle and Detective Andy Lazarro were all issued Lifesaving Medal, and Mr. Harry Rivenbark received a WPD Citizen Award for their actions on December 26, 2008.
On the day after Christmas 2008, a call was dispatched at 5:30 p.m. for a woman who had jumped off of the Cape Fear Bridge. The woman landed in the water and was unconscious. Within minutes, three Wilmington police officers arrived on the scene.
Officer Amy Gospodarek encountered Mr. Harry Rivenbark at the Castle Street boat ramp, and he offered the use of his boat to take the police officers out to try and rescue the woman. Officers Gospodarek, Lazarro and LaChapelle, along with Mr. Rivenbark, pulled the victim into the boat and began CPR as they headed back to the ramp. Once docked, they carried the woman up the ramp to where EMS was standing by. The victim was transported to New Hanover Regional Medical Center for treatment.
Because of an extremely short response time to the call, quick thinking, job training, and the generous assistance provided by Mr. Rivenbark, a life was saved on that day after Christmas.
Officer Justin Ovaska was issued the Lifesaving Award for his actions on December 18, 2008.
Officer Justin Ovaska was at the Wal-Mart on Sigmon Road, participating in the Wilmington Police Department’s annual Santa Cop program for needy children and their families. While at the store, a Wal-Mart employee experienced chest pains and collapsed in the lobby area. He hit his head and was unconscious.
Officer Ovaska quickly responded to assist. He notified EMS to respond and immediately began to administer CPR on the employee. The employee was revived by the time EMS arrived, and he was transported to the local hospital for treatment.
Because of Officer Justin Ovaska’s quick reaction, job training and decision-making, a citizen’s life was saved.
Officer John Musacchio was issued the Wilmington Police Department's highest honor - the Medal of Valor - for his actions in September 2007.
On September 20, 2007, the Wilmington Fire and Police Departments responded to the Seahawk Square Apartments to check on the welfare of a resident after neighbors notified authorities that water was running down the walls from the upstairs apartment.
After arriving, personnel from the fire department tried to locate the resident, and banged on the door. Unable to get a response, they attempted to pry the door open. Suddenly, shots were fired through the doorway, narrowly missing the firefighters and police officers standing outside. Immediately, Officer Musacchio barged through the doorway, challenged the man inside, and disarmed him. The suspect in this case was arrested, tried and convicted of assault with a deadly weapon.
This brave act can only be described as “going way beyond the call of duty.” Officer Musacchio’s actions quite possibly saved the lives of our emergency responders.
Congratulations to all our heroes!
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