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SAGAMORE HILLS -- The township has recognized two of its police officers for outstanding performance.
Det. Dave Piekarski was named as the Sagamore Hills Township Police Department employee of the year while Officer Tim Ellis was picked for the department's distinguished service award.
Both awards, which are selected by police department supervisors, were announced Jan. 9 at the township's monthly Board of Trustees meeting.
It was the second time for Piekarski as employee of the year and the second time Ellis received the distinguished service award.
Piekarski said he was "surprised" to receive the award.
"There are so many people here that deserve it more than me ... I wish I could write on it, 'Thank you to everyone else,'" he said.
Police Chief David Hayes said Piekarski "has done a great job."
"He had a setback health-wise in 2015," Hayes said. "Many people would have retired and said, 'Enough,' but Dave came back and he's done a great job ever since."
Piekarski suffered a staph infection that ruptured in his neck.
"They told my wife, Elaine, it would be fatal," he said, adding he was placed in an induced coma for about three weeks.
He was grateful for the support of his wife plus his four children and 12 grandchildren.
"The doctors told me it would take 1 1/2 to 2 years before I could go back to work, but I was back in fourth months," he said.
Piekarski has been a police officer for 37 years.
"I enjoy my job," he said. "I enjoy where I'm at and the people in the department. It's a great place to work. The trustees and police chief really care about people. They are the best people I've ever worked for."
Piekarski, who has worked for the department for 18 years, also received a Board of Trustees proclamation.
"He is a dedicated detective," Trustee John Zaccardelli said.
"The award is given to a person who stands above other employees by their job performance and who greatly contributes to the Sagamore Hills police," he said. "His body of work is exceptional. He always represents the department in a positive manner. He had many tough cases in 2016 including initiating a marijuana grow investigation that resulted in a substantial seizure."
Ellis, who has worked for the department for 12 years, was recognized after preventing a suicide attempt on Nov. 17, 2016, when police received a call about a young woman possibly ready to jump off the Route 82 bridge, according to Hayes. Ellis also received a proclamation from the Board of Trustees.
"People said she climbed up on a wall and was looking over it," Hayes said. "She said if anyone got near her, she would jump. Patrolman Ellis was the first Sagamore Hills officer on the scene."
Hayes said Ellis was able to use the light pole on the bridge to his advantage.
"The young woman was on her toes, holding onto the light pole, but her head was on the opposite side of Patrolman Ellis," he said. "She did not see him, and he immediately moved in toward her, bear-hugged her and pulled her away from the edge. He removed her from the bridge and put her in his police cruiser, where she was transferred to a local hospital."
Elllis said when he saw the woman, "I recall seeing that she was on her tip toes on top of the edge of the bridge. I thought to myself that anyone in that position, that high up, is ready to go and could do so at any second. I instinctively reacted and thankfully it worked out well. Experience at numerous calls on that bridge over the years tells me you don't get a second chance if the person jumps."
Ellis thanked his partner, Sgt. Rice, "who was my training officer when I started and also responded to the call. He is an outstanding supervisor."
"I would like to especially thank the Macedonia dispatchers, Kim Sutton and Tracy White, who simultaneously fielded multiple 911 calls, broadcast the essential information to us and toned out MFD paramedics, knowing that we would need them. They are two of the best in the business."
Hayes said the actions of Ellis "reflect well on the Sagamore Hills police department."
"He displays confidence and a deep passion for always wanting to help someone," he said. "The incident personifies the pride and dedication he has for his career. The residents of Sagamore Hills are lucky to have him serving this community. He displayed courage and an exemplary performance. He showed initiative and accomplishment in the line of duty that directly resulted in saving a life."
Ellis said he "felt proud to receive my second distinguished service award and honored that it was at the same meeting that one of my mentors, Det. Piekarski, was present and also honored. It's nice to work for a department that recognizes the effort of officers."
Mike Lesko: 330-541-9432