A speeding car hit a tree in St. Paul, the car split in two, the driver was thrown from the car and the 300-pound engine landed on his head and upper body.
St. Paul police officer Michael E. McGinn put on his gloves that day, May 10, 2008, and single-handedly lifted the weight off the man, who survived.
It wasn’t the only time McGinn had saved a life, said St. Paul police Chief John Harrington, who presented the officer with two Life Saving Awards on Monday.
The 26 officers honored Monday “put themselves in harm’s way so someone else could live,” Harrington said. It was the first time the department gave Life Saving Awards to officers. They defined “life saving” as an act involving a rescue, resuscitation or first aid.
McGinn was the sole officer to win two awards. He also was honored for being part of a team that saved a man on the Wabasha Street Bridge on Jan. 8, 2008. The man was on a narrow, icy ledge and was about to jump, Harrington said.
Officer Francisco Molina talked with the man and edged closer and closer, Harrington said. Then Molina grabbed the man’s arm and officers John Corcoran, Gerald Carter and McGinn pulled the man in, Harrington said.
McGinn, a St. Paul officer for seven years and a city employee for 23 years, said winning the awards was humbling.
Five of those honored are “legacy officers” — their fathers are current or former St. Paul officers, Harrington said. McGinn was one of them.
Michael G. McGinn, the U.S. marshal
for Minnesota and a retired St. Paul officer, said he was proud of his son.”He’s a very courageous man,” said the elder McGinn. “He continues to amaze me.”
In 2006, officers Jeffry Lewis and Christopher McGuire responded to an apartment fire, evacuated three apartments and got no response at the fourth unit. They kicked in the door, heard a man’s voice and told him to follow the light from their flashlights, Harrington said.
But it was too smoky and the man couldn’t see. McGuire
crawled in and Lewis held onto McGuire’s ankles in case there wasn’t a way back, Harrington said. By feeling around, McGuire found the man, and the officers pulled him out.The man was badly injured from burns and smoke inhalation, but he survived, Harrington said.
Two of the department’s newer officers — Joshua Lynaugh and Daniel Ficcadenti, who graduated from the police academy together in December 2006 and whose fathers are both St. Paul officers — were honored for rescuing a man who had been severely beaten and left to die in the Mississippi River in July 2008.
It was pitch-black, and Lynaugh and Ficcadenti stretched out as far as they could into the water and held onto the man until firefighters arrived.
Eight of the 12 cases involved a suicide or attempted suicide.
On Dec. 12, 2008, a woman jumped into the Mississippi River in subzero weather, and K-9 officers John Buchmeier, Patrick Murphy and Jeremy Ryan were first on the scene. They tied their dog leads together and used it as a rope to get the woman to safety, Harrington said.
Sgt. Will Mayavski was honored for saving a paramedic who responded to a report of a suicidal female threatening to jump from the 13th floor. As the woman jumped, the fire captain grabbed for the woman and would have been pulled to his death if Mayavski hadn’t prevented his fall.
The other awards went to officers Anthony Holte, John Thomas, William Beaudette, Amy Boyer, Kathleen O’Reilly, Edward Dion, Jesse Mollner, Michael Lee, David Quast, James McKnight, Charles Anderson and Matthew Sweeney; Sgt. Kevin Moore; and retired officer Michael Johnson.