Twelve Towamencin Township Police officers and two citizens were commended at Wednesday's board of supervisors meeting by Chief Tim Dickinson for their lifesaving and heroic efforts between October 2013 and March 2014.
Towamencin Township Police Sgt. John Cutrone, Sgt. Gary Wacker, Detective John Wittenberger, Detective Michael Paul, Officer James Hanrahan, Officer Patrick Horne, Officer Michael Seider and Specialist CJ Yoder were commended for their teamwork on Oct. 19, 2013 following a home invasion robbery on the 600 block of Chadbourne Court.
Dickinson said three men had entered the home and threatened and tied up two male occupants of the home. They then went through the home, taking $30,000 worth of items, including cell phones, computers, electronic gaming consoles and cash, he said.
After the perpetrators left the home, the occupants were able to free themselves and call police from a neighbor’s home, he said.
The unit worked as a team, Dickinson said, and immediately took steps to protect and recover physical evidence, attempt to electronically locate the stolen devices and interview victims and witnesses.
“Diligently following leads and evaluating evidence, both in Towamencin Township and into the City of Philadelphia, they worked tirelessly obtaining both arrest and search warrants,” Dickinson said. “As a direct result of the actions of the involved personnel, and within 72 hours of the original crime, two alleged perpetrators were taken into custody and incriminating evidence was located and seized.”
“By working together to complete many tasks in a short period of time, two of the three of these dangerous criminals were taken off the street in a very short period of time,” Dickinson said.
A second unit of officers comprised of Officer Edmund Howarth and Michael Seider were commended for their policework on Oct. 24, 2013 at 1 a.m.
The duo were called to assist Franconia and Lower Salford township police departments investigate a series of burglaries of plumbing businesses and thefts of scrap metal and other supplies, Dickinson said.
“Officer Seider responded to the scene of the burglaries … and encountered a suspect that fled on foot. Officers engaged in a foot pursuit, but the suspect was not immediately located,” Dickinson said.
Howarth, he said, responded to area where the suspect had fled on foot and took up a stationary position to observe any movement, Dickinson said. At 2:33 a.m., Howarth saw a dark-colored pickup truck speeding from the area, and was able to stop the vehicle.
“The occupants of the truck were found to be in possession of items used in the commission of the burglaries,” Dickinson said. “Although the perpetrator that fled on foot was not in the truck, information learned during the stop of the truck led to his identification.”
Dickinson said Howarth and Seider’s help in the investigation led to the clearance of several burglaries of the businesses in both townships.
“The actions of these officers constituted excellent teamwork, initiative and diligence,” he said.
The third unit commended Wednesday involved Sgt. Daniel Jusko, Sgt. Geoffrey Wainwright and Officer Christopher Check saving the life of an unconscious 78-year-old man who was not breathing following a medical emergency call.
On Nov. 28, 2013, at 7:23 p.m., officers responded to the medical emergency call on Heritage Drive.
Upon arrival, Jusko and Check found the victim unresponsive and not breathing, Dickinson said.
“Sgt. Jusko immediately applied the AED unit to the victim and, as instructed by the unit, gave the victim an electrical shock. Officer Check then immediately began chest compressions while Sgt. Jusko initiated an airway and rescue breathing,” Dickinson said.
Wainwright then arrived on scene with emergency medical personnel, and he then took over CPR operations, Dickinson said.
“The victim was transported to the hospital by ambulance and Officer Check transported the victim’s wife to the hospital. Eleven hours later, the victim was in stable condition at the hospital,” Dickinson said.
“There is little doubt that the combined efforts of these police officers contributed to the survival of the victim following a potentially fatal medical emergency,” he said.
In some emergency cases, it is often a citizen that comes to the aid of another human being and helps save his or her life.
Take Wawa employee Jessica Cardenas, who saved the life of a man inside Wawa at 200 Forty Foot Road on Nov. 30, 2013.
At 6:29 a.m. that day, police responded to the Wawa for a reported medical emergency. An adult man was having difficulty breathing inside the store by the registers, Dickinson said. It was reported, prior to police arrival, that CPR was in progress by Cardenas.
“Prior to police and emergency medical personnel arriving at the scene, Cardenas had initiated lifesaving actions and performed CPR until the male began breathing again,” Dickinson said.
Seider told Dickinson that Cardenas’ actions undoubtedly saved the life of the victim.
Dickinson then handed Cardenas the phone number of the man whose life she saved, as he wanted to thank her in person.
He said the officers who were commended for their actions in situations that they are trained for were going above and beyond as part of their job.
“Jessica is an example of an everyday citizen that went above and beyond to serve her community, assist the police department and serve a fellow citizen,” he said.
Resident Charles Mitchell was the second citizen commended for his assistance aiding Towamencin Township Police.
Mitchell’s assistance came during a treacherous time—a severe ice storm on Feb. 4, 2014 at 4:48 a.m.
Police had responded to the 1800 block of Valley Forge Road for a report of a large felled tree blocking the southbound lane, Dickinson said.
“Weather conditions were extremely dangerous, as a major ice storm was in progress. The responding officers contacted the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to respond and remove the tree, but they advised that they could not respond for a significant amount of time,” Dickinson said.
Enter Mitchell and his chainsaw.
“While the officers were directing traffic, (Mitchell) approached on foot and volunteered to assist by utilizing a chainsaw to help remove the fallen tree,” Dickinson said. “The officers described the conditions at the time as very dangerous with the sound of falling tree limbs and branches being heard around them.”
Dickinson said Mitchell worked diligently with officers to alleviate the road hazard.
“Mr. Mitchell’s actions allowed the roadway to be reopened and allowed the officers to get out of very dangerous weather conditions and to safety,” he said.
Supervisors Chairman Dan Littley lauded the officers and citizens on their heroic efforts and bravery. He said whether it is a medical emergency or security emergency, the police are always the first to respond, before fire and emergency medical personnel.
“It doesn’t matter what the weather is, they go out there and they respond,” he said. “What is equally gratifying is residents who stand up and help them, be it a fallen tree or someone who is choking. It’s really good to hear people step in to help their fellow citizen.”