Ten Iowa law enforcement officers were honored at the statehouse Wednesday for their actions in the line of duty. The 2008 recipients of the Sullivan Brother’s Award of Valor were recognized in a short ceremony before family members in the Governor’s office.
Cerro Gordo County Sheriff’s Deputy Brent Schupanitz won the award for rescuing a man from a vehicle that crashed upside down, submerged in the frozen Winnebago River last December. Francis Boyle was trapped in the vehicle for 20 to 30 minutes with icy waters up to his neck. Once he arrived on the scene, Schupanitz was worried he wouldn’t be able to get to Boyle because the doors were blocked.
"I broke through the ice myself around the vehicle and was able to open up the door and see Mr. Boyle inside," Schupanitz told Radio Iowa. "At first he was reluctant to come out…he was scared to leave where he was at." Minutes before the plunge into the river, the vehicle was being pursued by another sheriff’s deputy that lost sight of the vehicle. Three others in the vehicle escaped after the crash.
Schupanitz says he eventually convinced Boyle to get out of the car. "I was able to open up the door and he eventually grabbed my arm. I pulled him out of the river and up to the bank," Schupanitz said. Boyle was transported to the hospital in Mason City where he was treated and released. Schupanitz says the award is simply a reminder of why he wanted to be a law enforcement officer in the first place.
"It kind of brings you down to reality of what I’m actually out there for," Schupanitz said. "It gives a positive view, I think, of law enforcement that…we are out there doing some good. Sometimes the media portrays the negative issues that are coming out today and this award gives a positive view of us." Other award recipients include two members of the Ames Police Department.
Lieutenant Jeff Brinkley and officer Clint Hertz rescued a man from a burning car. Story County Sheriff’s Captain Barry Thomas was honored for his role in breaking up a hostage situation and six members of the Waterloo Police Department were recognized for saving the lives of several people caught in an apartment building fire.