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Local officers honoured for bravery

medal-of-braveryThree local police officers were among six firefighters and 15 officers who received Ontario’s top honours for bravery.

The Ontario Medals for firefighter bravery and police bravery are the province’s highest honours in recognition of actions that demonstrate outstanding courage and honour those who have gone above and beyond to protect and serve their community.

Provincial Constable William Barber, of the Ontario Provincial Police, Prince Edward County Detachment was honoured, along with constables Daniel Joly and Corey McGee, of the Belleville Police Service.

A synopsis from the event explained Barber was first on the scene the morning of March 12, 2016, of a house fully engulfed by flame. Fire and emergency medical services were on the way.

Told a young man was still inside the house, Barber climbed a ladder leading to the second story but was overcome by thick black smoke preventing him from entering the building. He ran to the back of the house where two other constables on the scene had smashed open a door and broke several windows to clear the house of smoke.

The officers were unable to enter the house and started shouting through the door, hoping to get a response from the victim. Their shouts were met with silence.

The synopsis described that Barber ran up a back set of stairs to a second story door that was open. On his hands and knees he crawled deeper into the residence. Two of his colleagues held onto his ankles to ensure his safety. The fire, smoke and heat were too intense and he was pulled away. Outside, Barber was unsteady on his feet and had difficulty breathing. He was taken to hospital where he was treated for smoke inhalation.

Three relatives escaped the fire. Zachary Dubois, 25, died in the blaze.

Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario presented the medals.

“On behalf of the people of Ontario, I thank these distinguished honourees for their service, which forms an important part of our collective story and is a source of inspiration for all.”

The synopsis for Belleville Police Service constable Daniel Joly states he was flagged down by a citizen on Sept. 25, 2015 and directed to a house fire. A resident in one of the units was refusing to come out. The fire department had not yet been called. Joly ran into the building, located a woman and directed her to safety. He then noticed a female resident of another unit on a landing at the side of the building with her two young children. He ran up the stairwell, grabbed one of the children and carried him to safety, returned up the stairwell and led the woman, her child and the family dog to safety; the frightened animal biting him on the wrist in the process.

Constable Corey McGee, on the evening of Aug. 7, 2015, and his partner, were dispatched to the home of a suicidal man. The synopsis reports the man had called his mother to say “goodbye” and told her he loved her. The house was empty but the officers learned he had been spotted on a nearby railway line.

McGee saw the man standing on the tracks with a freight train coming in his direction. The constable ran to the man and tried to escort him off the track bed but he stiffened and refused to leave the tracks. Estimating seconds before the freight train would hit them, the officer used a leg strike just above the knee to knock the man down and pin him against some rocks as the train sped by. The man was taken to hospital, accompanied by his mother.

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