Aurora Police Sgt. William Rowley was named Kane County Officer of the Year Thursday night for actions he took not while wearing a badge but perhaps inspired by the internal drive that caused him to become a police officer in the first place.
Rowley was off duty Oct. 13, 2013 when he came upon a family of four in a minivan in need of medical attention. A car traveling 60 mph blew a stop sign at the intersection of Grove and Caton Farm roads in unincorporated Kendall County. The collision caused significant injuries for a 2-year-old girl inside the minivan. When Rowley found her, she was unconscious and not breathing. He began CPR, keeping the girl alive until medics flew her to Advocate Hope Children's Hospital in Oak Lawn.
The girl sustained a skull fracture, compressed vertebrae, a broken jaw and collarbone and lacerations to her spleen, liver and kidneys. She spent more than two weeks in the hospital, and is expected to make a full recovery. Her parents credit Rowley with saving their daughter's life.
For those actions, Rowley received a standing ovation from his peers Thursday night and became the 37th Louis Spuhler Award winner as officer of the year. Spuhler was a retired Kane County sheriff's lieutenant who created the award along with the Batavia Moose Lodge.
Rowley was one of 17 finalists for the award. The others:
• Aurora Police Department: Investigators Gregory Christoffel, Edwin Doepel, Jeffrey Hahn, Erik Swastek, Nicholas Gartner, William Sullivan and Officer Christopher Coronado.
• Batavia Police Department: Officers Tony Gramme and Emil Jensen.
• Elgin Police Department: Officers Jonathan Rustay and Kevin Snow.
• Huntley Police Department: Officer Nora Cirks.
• Montgomery Police Department: Detective Ryder Kern and Detective Sgt. Jeffrey Ricedorf.
• Kane County Sheriff's Office: Sgt. Ron Hain.
• St. Charles Police Department: Officer Adam Stander.