Five Columbus police officers were honored by the city for their efforts to save lives and protect the most vulnerable among us.
Each was nominated by their supervisors for their selfless actions in separate incidents saving two Columbus residents’ lives, and helping an elderly woman who had no one to help her gain access to her home during the recent snowfall.
“We’ve got a great group of officers who give of themselves without any thought of public recognition,” said Chief Jon Rohde. “I couldn’t be more proud of the people I serve with and what they stand for.”
The most well-known of the incidents happened on Jan. 17 when Columbus Police Officer Greg Ross was credited with saving the life of a Nashville, Indiana truck owner whose vehicle had flipped over a steep embankment and landed upside down partially submerged in the Driftwood River on the city’s west side.
The soft-spoken Ross was on duty near the Westhill Shopping Center off Jonathan Moore Pike when the call came over the police radio seeking the water rescue team about Gary Pugh’s accident. And although the accident scene on County Road 325W was technically outside the city limits, Ross was very near, so he immediately went and was the first officer on the scene.
The city also honored two officers whose instincts told them something was wrong when sent on Jan. 7 to check on a local woman whose family believed she might harm herself.
Officers Matt Martindale and Logan Adams were sent to a home to check on the woman. After knocking on the home’s door several times, they decided to check on a detached garage and first turned off their patrol cars to better hear what was happening on the property.
The officers heard music and the sound of a vehicle running in the garage, which had locked doors and a blocked window, Rohde said. The officers made a forced entry into the garage and found the woman unconscious in the driver’s seat of the vehicle with a slight pulse and shallow breathing. They opened the garage door and carried the woman from the vehicle, and began life-saving measures and she was transported to the hospital where she regained consciousness.
The officers’ supervisor, Sgt. Steve Long, said the two saved the life of a person who had two small children. “Although the rescue did not fix the person’s problems, it gave her another day with her family to begin the healing process,” Long said of the rescue. “The officers also prevented something that was irreversible and would have been devastating to their family and friends. The way these officers responded and the professionalism they demonstrated should not go without notice.”
Two other Columbus police officers were honored for their efforts to help an elderly Columbus woman whose circumstances touched their hearts.
On Jan. 13, Officer Matthew Prendergast took the woman home from Columbus Regional Hospital while on third shift, and in talking with her learned that her husband and son had died, and she did not have anyone to help her with clearing the recent snowfall from her sidewalk and driveway.
When Prendergast dropped her off, he saw that the areas were ice- and snow-covered and were dangerous for the woman to navigate in and out of her home.
At the end of the shift Prendergast and Officer Danielle Stigers returned to the woman’s residence with snow shovels and cleared her sidewalk and driveway so that it would be safe.
Their supervisor, John Luttrell, said the act of kindness by the two officers often is unnoticed by the public, but the officers went above and beyond to assist an elderly person in need.
Rohde said the two clearly demonstrated a true public servant’s heart by helping the woman.
For more on this story, see Wednesday’s Republic.