North Aurora Police Officer Michael Quinn said Monday his lifesaving actions at a May vehicle crash were merely a case of "being in the right place at the right time."
But both his bosses and the North Aurora village board believe otherwise. For his action that night, Quinn received the Medal of Distinguished Service Monday.
Quinn's wife and two sons attended the ceremony, as did at least a half-dozen police officers.
"He is the epitome of what the North Aurora Police Department is all about," Police Chief David Summer said.
Quinn had just started his patrol on the midnight shift May 10, in the district that includes the intersection of Randall and Orchard roads on the village's west side, when he heard the call about the three-vehicle accident.
A minute or so later he was at the scene, where a vehicle on Randall had rear-ended another, which then struck a motorcyclist passing through the intersection. The motorcyclist and the first driver were walking around and appeared to be OK, he said.
A bystander then told him there was somebody trapped in the third car, which had ended up in a cornfield on the Mooseheart school property.
Quinn -- who had grabbed a fire extinguisher from his trunk when he saw smoke -- now saw flames coming out from beneath the car near the gasoline tank. He tried to open the driver's door, but the handle was stuck due to the crash. And the driver, who was not wearing a seat belt, was disoriented and didn't respond to Quinn's plea for him to try to opening the door.
Quinn pushed in a passenger-side window that had been crushed in the crash and pulled the man out.
"I want you to know that our village board is very proud of you, but also very proud of our entire police force," Village President Dale Berman told Quinn.
Quinn, 38, has worked for North Aurora for five years. Before that, he worked for the U.S. Border Patrol for a year. He also is a Petty Officer 1st Class in the Naval Reserves. He lives in Oswego.
"I know any of my colleagues would have done the same thing at the same time," he said.