For saving a child from a house fire, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund has selected Trooper Jim Leonard and Trooper Rick Carlson, of the Michigan State Police, and Deputy Justin Holzschu, of the Otsego County (MI) Sheriff's Department, as the recipients of its Officer of the Month Award for March 2016.
Just before 12:30 am on January 29, 2015, a babysitter near Gaylord, MI, awoke to find the house in which she was watching two children on fire. The babysitter was able to get a 7-year-old girl out of the house, but the flames kept her from reaching 2-year-old Kingston, who was sleeping in a bedroom in the back of the home. She ran to a neighbor's house to call 911.
Troopers Jim Leonard and Rick Carlson received the call from dispatch and were on the scene within five minutes, followed closely by Deputy Justin Holzschu. The troopers and deputy tried to make their way into the house, but the fire and smoke made it impossible. Upon learning that a child was in the back of the house, the officers broke through glass patio doors, but were unsuccessful in making it more than a few feet before being overcome by smoke.
Deputy Holzschu then broke windows on the side of the house to let smoke escape, allowing Troopers Leonard and Carlson to enter the house and rescue the unresponsive child from his crib.
Immediately exiting the house, the troopers began performing CPR on the boy and were able to restore breathing and a pulse. Both children were taken to the hospital, where they recovered.
"We're humbled by their bravery, by their response and risking their lives," said Lt. Derrick Carroll, Assistant Post Commander of the Michigan State Police Gaylord Post. "They saved that baby."
"If they didn't get there and do what they did, the child may have died," said Otsego County Undersheriff Matt Muladore.
"The actions of these three heroes saved the life of a small child," Memorial Fund Chairman and CEO Craig W. Floyd said. "They never gave up, repeatedly putting their lives in danger. I am deeply proud these troopers and this deputy are receiving our March 2016 Officers of the Month Award."
Located in the nation's capital, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund is a nonprofit organization dedicated to honoring the service and sacrifice of America's law enforcement officers. The Memorial Fund's Officer of the Month Award Program began in 1996 and recognizes federal, state, and local officers who distinguish themselves through exemplary law enforcement service and devotion to duty.
Troopers Jim Leonard and Rick Carlson and Deputy Justin Holzschu, along with the other Officer of the Month Award recipients for 2016, will be honored during National Police Week at a special awards ceremony in Washington, DC, in May 2017.
For more information about the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund's Officer of the Month Award, visit www.LawMemorial.org/OTM.
Established in 1984, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund is a private non-profit organization dedicated to telling the story of American law enforcement and making it safer for those who serve. The Memorial Fund built and now operates and maintains the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, DC, which contains the names of 20,538 officers who have died in the line of duty throughout U.S. history. The Memorial Fund is now building the National Law Enforcement Museum, which will tell the story of American law enforcement through high-tech, interactive exhibitions, historical artifacts and extensive educational programming. For more information, visit www.LawMemorial.org.