Palatine police trio honored for lifesaving heroics
A Palatine Park District employee, a special needs student at a local school and a young woman are alive today thanks to the quick actions of a trio of police officers, village officials said at a ceremony honoring the cops.
About 50 Palatine police colleagues, family and friends were present when Chief Al Stoeckel handed out awards to Sgt. Bruce Morris, officer Christopher Stearns and officer Lucas Sopcak. Mayor Jim Schwantz congratulated them and thanked them for their service.
"These men and women (who are) our first responders, they're top notch and do this day in and day out," Schwantz said of the contingent at the May ceremony.
Stearns' heroics occurred March 14 when, while serving as the school resource officer at Winston Campus in Palatine, he was summoned to a classroom where a nonverbal student was choking. He performed a pair of abdominal thrusts, clearing the blockage and permitting the student to resume breathing.
Morris' lifesaving feats took place March 8, when he responded a report of an employee suffering cardiac arrest at the park district headquarters on Wood Street.
He was first on the scene and noticed a good Samaritan performing chest compressions improperly. Morris took charge and administered CPR until paramedics arrived and took the man to a hospital. Officials said the man is recovering at home.
Sopcak was recognized for his actions in November, when responding to a report that a distraught 20-year-old woman was threatening suicide by leaping from the top floor of a five-story downtown parking deck. The woman tried to jump when she saw Sopcak approaching, but he was quick enough to grab her leg and pull her back to safety.
"Thank you for what you do every day," Stoeckel told the cops. "I know that all of our members come across many of these situations and we never hear about them. This was exceptional."
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