Reprinted with Permission
Bowling Green, Ohio

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Story with Sugar Cane

Sarah Boise was saved by Sugar Cane this summer. The Labrador is pictured
with owner Jeff Rice.

Home Page Story

Reprinted with Permission
Bowling Green, Ohio

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Read the Story Now

 Sugar Cane reunited with rescued girl at annual banquet honoring heroes for year

Fire chief 'brought
back' with CPR

By Bill Ryan
Sentinel-Tribune Staff Writer

PEMBERVILLE "I actually died. These people brought me back," said Steve Parsons, Waterville fire chief, of seven honorees recognized for their life-saving efforts. His words were labored as he fought back the tears.

Along with the tears, there was laughter and many heartfelt thanks for those seven, 15 other people and one four-legged friend that were honored Friday at the Black Swamp Humanitarian Awards Banquet.

The largest group ever recognized drew the largest gathering at the 16th annual event held at the American Legion Hall.

Nine individuals were recognized for risking their life; five were recognized as good Samaritans; while a man and a Labrador retriever were awarded the first certificates of merit for life-saving actions. The seven individuals who helped with Parsons were recognized with the "Service to Others" award.

In the introduction, Rick Van Mooy, master of ceremonies, said those being honored "distinguished themselves by helping or serving their fellow human beings."

He noted that in most cases they did not even know those they helped.

Parsons was at a fire school teaching a class when he dropped to the floor, a victim needing the treatment he was to teach.

"We talked about CPR," the chief said of his class. "If they wouldn't have known it, I wouldn't be here today. I can't tell you how grateful I am."

Pack noted that the special shirt he was wearing that day, ripped as per standard procedure in such treatment, has been turned into a pillow. Parsons was given a new shirt from the school he was to teach with the words "I survived."

Sugar Cane and Sarah Boise share a dinner spot at the head table.

A group of seven earned the award for actions in helping Parsons survive cardiac arrest. Lorrie Dymon, Tom Pack, Donna German, Al Conkle and Hollie Engle all came to his aid, summoned help and called for a defibrillator. Chad Mapus, a Bowling Green State University patrolman, quickly delivered the device; while the other nominees administered CPR. When Mike Smith, a BG firefighter/paramedic arrived, he used the device to revive the chief. Dymon and Mapus were unable to attend.

Ray Walendzak, of the Northwest Ohio Volunteer Firemen's' Association wrote in his nomination, "Due to the quick response of these people, Chief Parsons is alive and back to work. ... Their quick actions and teamwork saved the life of a fellow firelighter and EMT."

Parsons stressed the importance of learning CPR. "If you don't know CPR, learn it," he said.

This year was the first time when certificates were given for life-saving actions. The new category for the awards was instituted as a way to recognize those who saved the lives of family or friends, as opposed to the Good Samaritan award for service to strangers.

The last thing Rich Johann, Sylvania, expected on Easter Sunday was to have to rescue his son from a pond. The 2-year-old had gone exploring on a visit at friends near North Baltimore and was discovered "bobbing in the water" by his parents. Johann carried his son to shore and was able to clear water from his lungs and begin rescue breathing. The boy made a full recovery. Johann was not able to attend as his wife was giving birth to another child.

One of the hits of the dinner was the first canine recipient, Sugar Cane, a Labrador retriever, who was treated to her own steak dinner for her heroic efforts at the Portage Quarry on June 12. A 7-year-old girl, Sara Boise, was swimming with her older sister and a friend, when she drifted into water over her head prompting Sugar Cane into the water and swam directly to Sara. She was able to grab the dog's collar and she pulled her to the shallow area.

Sugar's owner, Jeff Rice, brought the dog bad from their Florida home specifically for the dinner.

"She is very protective of children," Rice said.

Ordinary but extraordinary

Heroes and lifesavers honored at humanitarian awards dinner

By Bill Ryan
Sentinel-Tribune Staff Writer

PEMBERVILLE Words are rarely enough to express emotions. When those emotions are tied to life and death, the tears and hugs of thanks make words unnecessary.

Words were often difficult during the 16th annual Black Swamp Humanitarian Awards, held Friday at the American Legion Hall.

For those being honored, they often saw their actions as ordinary when fate brought them together with the people in need.
"It's something we, as humans, do for others when the time is right," said Thomas Moser.

Both Moser and Scott Leo were among nine individuals honored for "Life Risk " actions. They pulled Kathleen Rety and her daughter, Stephanie, from a burning car following an accident on U.S. 20 near their home east of Stony Ridge. The Retv car was struck from behind and pushed onto the highway where it was struck again.

Rety said she was sitting in the car dazed, but thankful they had not been
hit by a semi truck when Moser and Leo arrived at the scene.

"I was sitting there, so happy and euphoric, so warm. I didn't even realize why I was so warm," Rety said referring to the fire.

The men fought against a damaged car and the flames to save the women, pulling them through a forced-open window.

"These men risked their lives to pull us from our inferno," Rety wrote to the nominating committee.

One of the most poignant presentations of the night involved the Life Risk awards presented to Phil Donaldson, Ron Simon, Robert Rideout, Charlie Haas and Pemberville Fire Chief Herb Martin. The five men made heroic efforts to save Dale Starkey from an explosion as he worked on a water heater at a friend's home in Scotch Ridge. Though Starkey died, his family was grateful for the brief time they had to spend with him after the incident.
Starkey's daughter, Brenda Schnitker, made the nomination and spoke on Friday.

"Because of their bravery and quick thinking, we were fortunate enough to arrive at the scene and spend some precious minutes without father," Schnitker said.

"One very important lesson I have learned from this is take time to tell your family that you love them," Schnitker said fighting the tears. "That morning I stopped by and rustled my father's hair, not knowing that was the last time I could do it."

Schnitker and her brothers. Bill, Mick, Duane, Keith and Kirk, showed their appreciation to each man. Martin fought back tears. After 45 years in the business, he called the incident "one of the toughest I ever had."

Noel Tammerine, of Parrysburg, was recognized for helping to subdue an unruly passenger on an airplane flight between Phoenix and Detroit. With the incidents of Sept. 11 on his mind, Tammerine and other passengers came to the aid of a flight attendant. They restrained the belligerent man until the plane was diverted and FBI agents took over. Tammerine was treated to a round of applause by fellow passengers.

One incident produced both a Life Risk and a Good Samaritan award. Paramedics Rhonda Kreais and her partner, Rachael Kimball, were returning from a sunrise run whey saw smoke rising in the Oakmont subdivision near Parrysburg. They tracked the smoke to the home of Matthew and Anita Wilkin.

The paramedics roused the sleeping family, saving the couple and their four daughters.

Kreais was recognized in the Life Risk category for her efforts including dashing into the smoke-filled home; while Kimball was noted a Good Samaritan for her efforts including calling 9-1-1.

"We've always spoke of them as our angels," Matthew Wilkin said.

"We're grateful for their awareness of what was going on that night and being guided by what we think as God to our home and saving us."

Two young people were among the other "Good Samaritan" award recipients.

Jessica Cassavar was a passenger on an Otsego school bus when the driver, Christine Kummerer, lost control due to an undiagnosed brain tumor. Jessica pulled the emergency brake and helped the driver call the bus garage for assistance.

"All I could do was keep repeating, 'Stop the bus. Stop the bus,'"Kummerer recalled.

She said Jessica's brother, Doug, though hearing impaired, was the first to hear her pleas. He summoned his sister to action.

Jessica also thanked her brother, calling the incident "a miracle" because of his hearing impairment.

"I'm very proud of both of them," their father said.

The other young "Samaritan" was Lucas Coleman, A Boy Scout, for his actions in saving James "Bo" Fillhart. IN January, Lucas was home from school due to a heavy snowfall. He saw commotion across a farm field.

Investigating, he found Fillhart, a victim of a snowmobile accident.

The Scout went back home, gathered blankets and called 9-1-1. He quickly returned to the victim's side, covered him with the blankets and stayed by his side until rescuers arrived. Fillhart was treated for broken bones in his neck, back, arm, pelvis and ribs. Had Coleman tried to move the victim, further damage would have been done.

"I'm proud of him," said Rev. James Moffett, a humanitarian committee member and pastor of the church that sponsors the troop.

Gary Bockbrader saved a 2-year-old neighbor boy from drowning in August 2003. Because of his efforts, including jumping a fence, rescuing the submerged boy and administering CPR, young Micah Fry was breathing on his own by the time rescuers arrived.

"Looking right there," Bockbrader said pointing to the Fry family, "That says it all."

Matt Fry called Bockbrader his guardian angel.

Becky Walls noted the importance of communication, the old-fashioned kind as well as cellular phones for being able to help her and her husband, Eric, assist authorities in capturing burglars. Because she had heard discussion about burglars using a garage door truck in their heists, she was on alert when they saw a similar truck at a neighbors. A cell phone call to the neighbor proved their intuition correct and they pulled into the drive-way.

The burglars fled, but the Walls pursued and summoned the sheriff's office who captured the burglars.

"I can only imagine what would have happened had they not acted," said Julie Heuerman of her neighbors' actions in foiling the burglary at their home.

Saved by Sugar Cane

Retriever lives up to his name by
rescuing girl at Portage Quarry

Photos by Michael Lehmkuhle/Sentinel-Tribune
Sentinel Staff Photographer

A local girl has a new best friend after being pulled from deep water by a big-hearted Labrador retriever.

Seven-year-old Sara Boise, of Bowling Green, was swimming with her sister Kayla, 9, and another girl at nearby Portage Quarry Recreation Club last weekend, on Saturday, when she found herself in over her head literally.

Without prompting, a yellow Labrador retriever named Sugar Cane jumped into the water and helped the little girl make it back to safe and shallow waters.

"Sugar jumped in and swam out to her," said Stacy Heilman, Sara's older half sister who also works at the recreation club. "Sara grabbed (Sugar Cane's) collar and the dog pulled her to the shallow beach area where she could touch bottom."

She said Sara, who just finished the first grade at Kenwood Elementary School, now has a new best friend.

"Sugar must have sensed something was wrong," she said. "She just jumped in to help her."

Recreation club owner Jeff Rice was a bit skeptical when first hearing about his dog's plucky plunge to save Sara.

"The kids came up and were saying 'Sugar Cane saved Sara from the water,'" Rice said this week. "I thought it was a fluke or some thing, that maybe they were just playing in the water. But then some adults confirmed it, so apparently it's true."

He said Sugar Cane is only 10 months old, the latest in a line of Labradors that have graced the quarry grounds over the years.

Rice purchased the water dog from East Hill Labradors in Howell, Mich.

Labradors are known for their skill and strength in the water, making them a favorite among hunters. Historically, they also were used as fishermen's assistants.

"She's very powerful in the water," Rice said of his newest four-legged lifeguard."

Sarah Boise, 7, hugs a Labrador named Sugar Cane at Portage Quarry



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