Several police officers and fire personnel in Huron Township were commended Wednesday by Police Chief Everette Robbins for their swift actions during a potential murder-suicide incident that occurred at Michigan Memorial Cemetery on April 22.
According to Robbins, it all started when the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department received a call regarding a murder-suicide taking place at the cemetery.
Dispatch was told that a depressed woman had just kidnapped her elderly sister from a nursing home in Van Buren Township, and that she was going to the cemetery to push her into the Huron River with the plans to then commit suicide by jumping in after.
Corporal Brian Kostielney and Officers James Poma Derek Lazarski, who were all in a meeting at Huron High School during the call, immediately dropped what they were doing and responded to the cemetery at their own will.
Corporal Duane Griffis was also dispatched to the scene at the same time.
When the police arrived, they noticed that a woman was in the water and in immediate danger, according to Robbins.
The kidnapped woman was located safely in a vehicle parked near the river bank.
Robbins said Griffis climbed down near the river’s edge to hold the woman’s hand as she sank neck deep into the water.
“Corporal Griffis put himself into great danger and continued to hold the female’s hand, keeping her safe until additional help could arrive,” Robbins said.
Robbins said the water was higher than normal at the time, and there was a dangerous edge of jagged rocks near the river’s edge.
“It was clear from Corporal Griffis’ action that he reacted without regard for his own life as he bravely took the necessary actions to save the life of another.”
Soon after, Captain Bradley Bauman and Sgt. Paul Novicki of the Huron Township Fire Department arrived and began to assist the officer.
Robbins said Bauman, Griffis and Novicki worked as a team to lift the woman from the water and to safety, using the assistance of two ladders from the fire engine to help secure the woman during the process.
“Captain Bauman’s ability to immediately assess the situation and quickly come up with a plan of action with the tools he had at his disposal was instrumental in saving this woman’s life.
“As I arrived and stood on the scene of this incident that morning, I will not soon forget the sense of pride that I had for being part of the Huron Township Public Safety Team,” Robbins said.