By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
They were ordinary people, who when faced with extraordinary challenges did the right thing.
The four people who heard screaming then gunshots and ran to aid the victim. The two people who stopped to help a man lying in the middle of the road. And the man who tried to save his uncle when a barn collapsed on him.
The “heroes who live among us” were recognized Friday evening during the 29th annual Black Swamp Humanitarian Awards. Since 1989, a total of 412 awards have been presented to people who have made extraordinary efforts to help others.
This year’s awards were given to Andrew and Kacie Engel, Chris and Rebecca Jordan, Jared Fouts, Halie Domer and Andrew Wilhelm.
Life Risk Award
On March 23, the Engels and Jordans heard a woman scream and gunshots being fired. They ran to the aid of a woman lying in the hallway of their Perrysburg Township apartment building – even though her estranged husband who shot her was still in the building.
The woman, Kristine Keiser, had been shot four times.
“These couples truly put their lives on the line to save mine,” Keiser wrote in a letter to be read at the awards ceremony Friday night.
The four people put themselves in danger, Keiser wrote. “They never left my side – even with an armed man on the other side of the apartment door.”
“I’m blessed to be alive today because of them,” Keiser wrote.
Neither couple was able to attend the awards ceremony, but North Baltimore Police Chief Allan Baer painted the scene for the audience.
Perrysburg Township Police received a report of a person being shot in an apartment building. Upon arriving, they found the victim in the second floor hallway, being tended to the Engels and the Jordans. The Jordans live directly across from the apartment where the shooting took place. Rebecca Jordan went inside their apartment to get towels for the victim. Kacie Engel and Chris Jordan applied pressure the gunshot wounds in Keiser’s head and side.
“All of the witnesses saw the door to apartment 2-A open for a short time and all observed shell casings on the floor of that apartment,” Baer said. “The neighbors stayed by Kristine and tried to help her, despite the risk it posed to themselves.”
It wasn’t known until later that the suspect had used a rope to lower himself from the second floor balcony to escape. Once police arrived on the scene, they took over tending to the victim, so the neighbors could seek safety. One of the neighbors also gave a vehicle description for the shooting suspect, which aided police in capturing him. The suspect was taken into custody without incident.
Good Samaritan Award
On May 23, Jared Fouts was driving down Van Tassel Road, north of U.S. 6, when he saw something in the road. At first he thought it was a garbage can. But as he got closer, Fouts saw it was a man lying in the middle of the road. Soon another car, driven by Halie Domer stopped to help as well.
The man, who was diabetic and very hypoglycemic, had been walking into Weston to get a cup of coffee, when he collapsed in the road. Neither Fouts nor Domer knew him.
Fouts and Domer moved the man off the road to the back of one of their vehicles, and called EMS. Upon arrival, the EMS crew found the patient sitting on the back of an SUV with Fouts, Domer, and a deputy tending to him. His blood sugar was 39, he was very combative due to the low blood sugar and kept losing consciousness.
The EMS, with the assistance of the fire department, was able to get the patient into the squad and render care. Even after arrival at the hospital, the patient’s blood sugar kept bottoming out and he was required to stay in the hospital while they stabilized his condition.
“The deputy told us that many people would have just driven by,” Fouts said.
Service to Others Award
On July 18, Andrew Wilhelm started his day as usual, helping his uncle, a fellow firefighter, at a construction site when a catastrophic event unfolded. The barn being built collapsed, resulting in severe injuries to his uncle.
“Without hesitation and the only tools being his knowledge, Andrew initiated treatment, desperately trying to give his uncle a chance to survive until emergency crews arrived,” Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn said.
“Unfortunately, Andrew’s uncle ultimately succumbed to his injuries, but without Andrew’s intervention his uncle would have never had a chance,” Wasylyshyn said. “Although everyone involved acted heroically, it is truly remarkable the way Andrew treated a family member without hesitation.”
In addition to the Black Swamp Humanitarian Awards, the recipients were also presented with proclamations from State Senator Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green.
The all-volunteer humanitarian awards committee is headed by Mark Wasylyshyn, Wood County Sheriff’s Department. Other committee members include Allan Baer, North Baltimore Police Department; Kathy Bomer, Boy Scouts of America; Tony Hetrick, Bowling Green Police Department; Holli Engle, Wood County Hospital; Joe Frederick of New Rochester; Kathy Heyman, Weston EMS; Dean King, Bowling Green Lincoln Auto Sales; Jeff Klein, Wood County Emergency Management Agency, Jan Larson McLaughlin, Bowling Green Independent News; Ryan Lee, Central Joint Fire Department; Steve Meredith, Bowling Green Fire Department; Jessica Miller-Blakely, Wood Lane Residential Services; Tom Sanderson, Bowling Green Fire Department; Gary Spencer, Bowling Green Police Department; Mike Sibbersen, retired Wood County Auditor; and Rick Van Mooy of North Baltimore.