Residents Honored for Heroic Actions
“What we hear is, ‘anybody would have done it’. Unfortunately, you’re wrong and that’s not the case.”
By Brandi Makuski
Five area residents this month were recognized for their heroic actions in a ceremonial dinner hosted by the Stevens Point Police Department.
Officials from SPPD awarded the Recognition Coin- the highest civilian honor given by the department- to Warren Soik, Ashton Avery , Donald Wiza, Hallie Evenson and Gayle Fox for actions which saved the lives of two and resulted in three area arrests. The dinner and ceremony were held at Kristin’s Riverwalk in Downtown Stevens Point.
In August Ms. Gayle Fox provided to police immediate and thorough details relating to a gas station robbery on the west side of Stevens Point. That robbery was one of two on the same date in different parts of the city. Thanks to Fox’s identifying information, Assistant Chief Tom Zenner said she was instrumental in helping police track and identify the two suspects, who were later arrested and charged.
Hallie Evenson of Stevens Point also helped lead police to a dangerous suspect when, in September she observed her friend leaving with a suspicious male. Her friend was later assaulted by the man, but Zenner said it was Evenson’s “keen observations” which led police to the suspect, resulting in an arrest.
“She not only provided valuable information later at the hospital, she provided positive identification,” Zenner said.
Three other residents’ quick actions resulted in life-saving measures. Donald Wiza was driving his snow plow along the 200 block of Division St. when he noticed what looked
like a pile of clothes on the sidewalk. Upon closer inspection, Wiza realized it was actually an unconscious woman laying on the frozen cement on a February night. Wiza placed the woman in his heated vehicle and flagged down a passing motorist for additional assistance, and stayed with the woman until police arrived to perform life-saving measures.
Zenner said the woman Wiza found was unconscious and had no pulse, but she later recovered.
The remaining two recipients held a special place in Zenner’s heart, he said, because it involved not only a juvenile victim- but a juvenile hero.
On Dec. 9, 2013, 7 year-old Warren Soik was attending his YMCA swimming class when he noticed one of his classmates had not reemerged from the water. The victim, identified only as a boy, did not appear to be in distress, but Soik called to help anyway to the pool’s lifeguard Ashton Avery .
Avery pulled the boy was pulled from the water to find he was not breathing and had no pulse. She performed CPR on the boy until medical personnel arrived.
Zenner said the boy made a full recovery.
Police Chief Kevin Ruder began the Recognition Coin program two years ago. Among past recipients are Portage Co. Veteran’s Services Officer Mike Clements and about a dozen other citizens who were honored at last year’s award ceremony. He also said many recipients say they don’t feel they’ve done anything heroic- a sentiment echoed by Zenner.
“What we hear is, ‘anybody would have done it’. Unfortunately, you’re wrong and that’s not the case,” he said. “Many times you may have people who will stand by and watch; some people walk the other way. Some people watch with their camera in the air. These people didn’t do any of that; they acted, and saved two people’s lives, and three people were arrested for serious events. This wouldn’t have happened but for their actions. This is everyday people doing an extraordinary act.”