By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
Richard Hill, 54, got to thank three people Monday evening for saving his life.
Two are Bowling Green police officers, and one is an apartment resident who initially called Hill, a maintenance man, to help with a leaky dishwasher.
On June 11, Hill responded to a maintenance call at Danica Motes’ third floor apartment on South Mercer Road in Bowling Green. Though Motes and her husband were new residents to the city, they had met Hill before when they needed help at their apartment.
“Rich is always smiling and happy,” Motes said.
But on this day, when Motes opened her apartment door, instead of his customary joke, Hill collapsed in the hallway.
“For the first few seconds, I was in shock,” Motes recalled. “I thought he was going to make a joke, but he fell over.”
Motes called 911 and was instructed by a Wood County Sheriff’s Office dispatcher how to do chest compressions. When Hill started turning blue, she called 911 again and asked them to hurry. Within a couple minutes Bowling Green police officers were at the scene and took over.
“After the police came, I fell apart,” Motes said.
Sgt. Michael Bengela and Ptl. Ryan Sehlhorst stepped in, with Bengela doing check compressions and Sehlhorst breathing into Hill.
“I kept checking his pulse, and he didn’t have one,” Sehlhorst said.
Within one to two minutes, BG Fire Division had paramedics at the scene. They worked on Hill at the apartment building and then transported him to St. Luke’s Hospital.
“He was never responsive before they took him in the ambulance,” Motes said.
Hill’s wife, Cheryl, said her husband had no serious health problems until that day.
“It was out of the blue,” she said. “It was a total shock.”
Cheryl Hill arrived at St. Luke’s just as her husband was being taken into surgery, where they put in three stents.
“They’re saying he should recover completely,” she said. Her husband is home recovering, and is impatient about getting back to work.
“He’s one of those people who likes working,” his wife said. “He’s ready to go. This is really difficult.”
Cheryl Hill said she and her husband were glad they had an opportunity to thank the two officers plus Motes during the Bowling Green City Council meeting Monday evening.
“We were wanting to meet them all,” she said. “We’re real grateful.”
Bowling Green Police Chief Tony Hetrick recommended to the city that Motes receive a letter of commendation, and that Bengela and Sehlhorst be awarded the Meritorious Service Award.
“We don’t engage in that type of lifesaving a lot,” Hetrick said, noting the police division has only given out the Meritorious Service Award five times in the past.
“It’s been given out very rarely,” the chief said.
Though all police officers in the division are trained in CPR, it’s rare to see such success. “I’m thrilled that it worked out and Mr. Hill recovered,” Hetrick said.
“I’m proud of what they both did,” he said of the officers. Sehlhorst has been with the BG division for two years. Bengela, who has served on the police division for about 20 years, has been awarded in the past for stopping a high-speed chase as it was approaching the downtown.
“He’s no stranger to high intensity situations and he performed flawlessly,” Hetrick said.
This was the first time for Bengela and Sehlhorst to perform CPR.
“It was nice to do something good,” Bengela said. “Most things we go out on, people end up not making it.”
The chief also praised Motes for her response.
“For someone to answer a knock on the door and have to give CPR – she was really the key to him surviving,” Hetrick said.
Motes said she learned CPR about three years ago when she worked at a day care.
“I’ve never had to use it before,” she said. “I was calmer than I thought I would be. Instinct kicked in. I really like Rick and I wanted him to be OK.”