The Anoka County Sheriff’s Office recognized heroic acts and exemplary work at its awards ceremony March 22.
“I will tell you with confidence that each and every day, members of the sheriff’s office do something exceptional that goes without recognition,” said Sheriff James Stuart.
Division commanders of the sheriff’s office annually nominate staff and others who they feel deserve recognition. An awards committee then evaluates the nominations.
Saving a mother’s life
Kelli Amell was bringing her kids home from school the afternoon of Feb. 7. Amazingly, all 18 traffic lights on the route were green, so she arrived in her Oak Grove neighborhood 15 minutes ahead of schedule. It was not just good fortune for her. This helped save her neighbor’s life.
Amell was driving to her home when Alysa Jonas, an eighth-grade student at Oak View Middle School, flagged down her car. Alysa asked if she knew CPR in order to help her mother Dawn, who was having a heart attack. Alysa prior to this had already run to a neighbor’s home to call 911 while her older brother Alex, a freshman at Andover High School, tried to revive his mother with CPR.
Dawn had aspirated as Amell got to her, so Amell flipped Dawn over, cleared her mouth and started to perform CPR until Anoka County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Andrew Lindberg arrived.
Lindberg had an automated external defibrillator (AED) in his squad car. He asked Alex and Alysa to wait next door.
“I was pretty much praying the whole time,” Alysa said.
Lindberg used the AED on Dawn to provide a shock to get her heart beating again. In between the electrical shocks, Amell performed CPR. Deputy Michael Jorgensen arrived shortly after this and took over CPR. They noticed Dawn was attempting to take breaths and had a faint pulse.
The deputies continued performing CPR for 10 minutes until Oak Grove Rescue arrived and assisted.
Dawn said she was at Mercy Hospital for about two weeks and does not remember much about what happened. Her husband Keith, who was in Philadelphia on business the day Dawn had a heart attack, flew back the next day to be by his family’s side.
Saving a motorcyclist
Ramsey residents Bree and Bill Plessel had just got off eastbound Highway 10 at the Main Street exit when Bree witnessed a vehicle hit a motorcyclist, who had slowed down in the left lane as other traffic came to a halt at 11:30 a.m. Sept. 12 2011. The driver of a vehicle struck from behind, sending the motorcyclist 20 feet through the air before landing near the median of the roadway.
Bill stopped their vehicle on the side of the Main Street off-ramp. Bree, a registered nurse at North Memorial Hospital, went down the grassy slope to get to the fallen motorcyclist.
Bree instructed another driver to call 911. She said the motorcyclist was responsive, but was dazed and confused and kept repeating himself. Thankfully, he was wearing a helmet and protective clothing.
The motorcyclist said his back hurt, so Bree held his cervical spine in case he had a spinal injury. Once emergency personnel arrived, Bree helped remove the severely damaged helmet and was there until he was put on a backboard in an ambulance and transported to Mercy Hospital.
Bree did not hear anymore about what happened to the motorcyclist.
Although she has seen plenty of injuries at the hospital, this was the first time she had ever responded to an accident in the field.
“It is very different being outside the controlled hospital setting where I have doctors and people I know that work there,” Bree said. “It was an interesting process being part of the first responders, keeping people calm, keeping him safe until the medics could arrive.”
Going above and beyond
Sgt. Timothy Day and Crime Prevention Coordinator Laura Landes received certificates of recognition for their efforts in partnering with Fishing for Life to host a kids’ fishing clinic at Lake George Regional Park in Oak Grove Aug. 5, 2011.
According to Stuart, Day and Landes put in many hours, both off and on duty, to make sure the event was a success with 85 kids participating. Stuart said due to the success, this will be an annual event. This year’s fishing clinic will be on Aug. 3.
Sgt. Kim Hauger worked the overnight shift instead of her usual afternoon shift for several months last year when one of the two overnight sergeants was out for an extended time due to a medical leave. Stuart said Hauger sacrificed her normal sleep patterns for the betterment of the sheriff’s office.
Det. Justin Bloch’s dedication to finding the truth in a complex case enabled the right man to be charged with a crime, according to Stuart. A Ham Lake man in October 2011 reported that another man who had an affair with his wife had threatened him with a gun and shot at him.
Bloch’s investigation concluded that the man who made the initial police report had actually been the one to make the threats. Bloch worked late and into the morning hours with Sprint and Yahoo obtaining subpoenas and emergency orders, cell phone records, tower pings and computer IP information.
Six individuals including Lt. Bryon Fuerst, Dets. Dan Douglas and Patrick Nelson, Deputy Brek Larson and retired deputy Bruce Hatton were involved in investigating a complex case that led to a man being sentenced to 30 years in prison for an assault from which the victim ultimately died.
In September 2010, an elderly Fridley man was assaulted in his home by a lone intruder. Fuerst, who was then a detective, interviewed the suspect who lived in the area and obtained a DNA sample.
Police arrested the suspect after the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension found out that he was likely involved in the assault. However, an Anoka County District Court judge ruled in an omnibus hearing that the DNA sample was not given voluntarily, so the suspect was released from custody.
Fuerst was aware that the suspect smoked cigarettes, so he and other sheriff’s office personnel tailed the suspect after he was released from jail. The suspect was picked up by an acquaintance and began smoking. He disposed of the cigarette butt at a gas station and law enforcement picked up this for DNA analysis.
The DNA on the cigarette butt matched the DNA found at the scene of the crime and allowed law enforcement to get a search warrant for another sample of the suspect’s DNA.
Det. Gary Patterson was assigned to investigate injuries a three-year-old boy sustained on Aug. 30, 2011 that ultimately led to his death. The stories the boy’s mother and boyfriend told were inconsistent. Stuart said Patterson worked around the clock with medical staff, the county attorney’s office, social services and other detectives to uncover the truth, prepare search warrants and prepare the case for trial.
Stuart said Patterson’s effort led to the mother’s boyfriend being charged with murder and the mother being charged with manslaughter and neglect.
Deputy Michael Hlavinka made multiple felony arrests during the spring and summer of 2011, including a three-day stretch in July. According to Stuart, Hlavinka trudged through a swamp to track down a vehicle thief. Two days later, he was dragged a short distance when trying to get a person to stop their vehicle. He was trying to arrest this person because they did not have a valid driver’s licence. He got back into his squad car and pursued the vehicle. The suspect was located by a K-9 officer.
Deputy Cullen Czech and K-9 Major responded to the city of Nowthen Nov. 18, 2011 to help find a missing 82-year-old female who suffered from dementia and other health problems.
The investigation determined that she had been missing for about an hour. The temperature was cold and the sun was beginning to set.
The missing person’s vehicle had crashed into a tree, but Czech and Major went through a densely wooded area and into a swamp with waist high grass and ankle deep water to track the scent. They eventually found the woman lying face down in the swamp. She was cold and unresponsive. Czech called medical personnel to pick her up and treat her. She made a full recovery, Stuart said.
Eric Hagen is at [email protected]