Officers honored for action in the face of risk

Police chief commends nine for heroism

Police chief commends nine for heroism

May 17, 2007|by KAREN HANNA

HAGERSTOWN - Police trying to keep track of a speeding vehicle in the middle of the night just after Christmas had no idea they soon would be responding to a fire, according to the comments of Hagerstown Police Department Chief Arthur Smith and an officer at the scene.

Neither police nor their families know what dangers might await them when they go out on calls, Smith said Wednesday during an annual memorial ceremony for fallen officers.

Smith paid tribute to individual officers, including a group who helped put out a vehicle fire, for their heroic actions in the last year. He also remembered Officer Donald Kline, who was killed while trying to thwart a robbery in 1975.

"I think that we need at least for a moment to think of his sacrifice and think of the sacrifice that his family now is going to make," Smith said.


Merle W. Unger Jr., who was convicted of murder in Kline's death, two months ago won the right to a new trial.

Police officers stood shoulder to shoulder in a formation behind a few rows of seats, where community members and officials, including Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II and some members of Hagerstown City Council, heard Smith speak.

After the ceremony, Detective Andrew Lewis held a folder containing his commendation. He was an officer when a vehicle speeding through downtown Hagerstown crashed and caught fire Dec. 29, 2006, near Sheetz on East Washington Street.

Lewis said he does not remember why the people in the vehicle sped off when police initially attempted a traffic stop. Police officers responding to the vehicle were concerned about freeing the passengers trapped inside.

"When there's people trapped in a car that's on fire, that's probably, it's definitely one of the worst situations that I've seen," Lewis said.

Lewis hesitated when asked whether he was concerned for his own safety, and he explained that he did not know the word to express his feelings as he and fellow officers battled the flames. At the time, he said, his adrenaline was pumping.

Concern for the vehicle's passengers, who were unconscious when police got to the scene, was paramount, Lewis said.

"I guess it would be fear, but it happened so quick, you don't have time to think about it," Lewis said.

Officers singled out for bravery

At a ceremony Wednesday, Hagerstown Police Department Chief Arthur Smith singled out nine officers for their bravery and quick thinking during incidents over the last year.

Officer Carly Monaghan was driving to work March 2 when she came upon an elderly woman who had been struck by a vehicle on U.S. 40 near Huyetts Crossroads. Monaghan performed CPR on the woman for about 20 minutes until emergency personnel arrived on the scene, but the woman died, Smith said.

Officers Jesse Duffey, Michael Kovac, Ben Lyncha, Timothy Culp, Scott Leeney and Andrew Lewis, who now is a detective, helped put out a vehicle fire and rescue two people after a crash Dec. 29, 2006, near Sheetz on East Washington Street, Smith said.

Detectives Brian Hook and Tom Langston, who now is a sergeant, arrested a man who was attempting to sexually assault a woman near Universal Liquors on East Franklin Street. The detectives heard the woman's screams and stopped to investigate, Smith said.

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