This year marked the 28th Annual Black Swamp Humanitarian Awards dinner, held on Friday, Nov. 11, at Nazareth Hall in Grand Rapids. The first Black Swamp Humanitarian Awards dinner, held in 1989, was organized by former Wood County Prosecuting Attorney Betty Montgomery, and the late David C. Miller, former editor of the Sentinel-Tribune. Since 1989, more than 400 awards have been presented to individuals in recognition of their heroic deeds.
To be nominated for an award, the nominee either must be a Wood County resident at the time of the event or the event had to occur in Wood County. This year 11 awards will be given including the Life Risk, Service to Others and Good Samaritan awards. The Life Risk recipients are Brian Robinson, Brandon Conine (of North Baltimore), Dino Babers, Chelsea Lowe and Conner Beck. Patrolmen Tyson Richmond is receiving the Service to Others award. The Good Samaritan awards are being received by Wesley Stiner, Corey Stulpin, Robert Fyfe, James Oberlander and Thomas Harper.
The dinner was held, where friends, relatives and co-workers of the award recipients are welcomed. Brandon was unable to attend the dinner and will receive his award at the Wood County Fire/EMS Chiefs Association Meeting Monday, November 28, 7:00 pm, in the Training Room at the Wood County Sheriff’s Office.
Nine Wood County funeral homes underwrite the cost of the awards program, paying for the plaques and dinners proved for the award recipients and their guests. The sponsoring funeral homes are Barndt Funeral Home, Wayne; Deck-Hanneman Funeral Home & Crematory, Bowling Green; Dunn Funeral Home, Bowling Green; Marsh Funeral Homes, Luckey & Pemberville; Peinert-Dunn Funeral Home, Tontogany; Smith-Crates Funeral Home, North Baltimore; Sujkowski Funeral Home, Rossford; Witzler-Shank Funeral Homes, Perrysburg & Walbridge and Wright-Habegger Funeral Homes, Grand Rapids.
The all-volunteer humanitarian awards committee is headed by Mark Wasylyshyn, Wood County Sheriff’s Department. Other committee members include Allan Baer, North Baltimore Police Department; Kathy Bomer, Boy Scouts of America; Tony Hetrick, Bowling Green Police Department; Holli Engle, Wood County Hospital; Dr. Joe Frederick of New Rochester; Kathy Heyman, Weston EMS; Dean King, Bowling Green Lincoln Auto Sales; Jeff Klein, Perrysburg Fire Department, Jan Larson McLaughlin, Bowling Green Independent News; Ryan Lee, Central Joint Fire Department; Steve Meredith, Bowling Green Fire Department; Jessica Miller-Blakely, Wood Lane Residential Services; Tom Sanderson, Bowling Green Fire Department; Gary Spencer, Bowling Green Police Department; and Rick Van Mooy of North Baltimore.
To follow are the award winners and the event that brought about their selection:
Life Risk award
- While returning from Buffalo, NY in October of 2015, the first of four BGSU Falcons football team buses narrowly escaped a collision on west I-90 near Avon, Ohio. On the first bus were former BGSU head football coach Dino Babers and former assistant athletic trainer Chelsea Lowe, who witnessed a car that swerved in front of their team bus and then proceeded to hit the center divider and catch on fire. The bus stopped a short distance from the accident and Babers and Lowe quickly went to the aid of the driver, risking their lives to pull the female motorist out of the burning vehicle. Babers and Lowe got her to a safe distance from the burning car and stayed with her until local police and fire officials were on the scene. Had Babers and Lowe not selflessly and bravely assisted the female victim, she may not have survived the incident.
- On June 2, 2016, the quick actions and heroic efforts of Brian Robinson and Brandon Conine helped to save the life of Kenneth Seeley, of Weston. Robinson, a police officer in Deshler, and Conine, an ODOT employee, were the first on the scene of a collision at the intersection Route 6 and State Route 235 and found Seeley’s truck off the road in a field and on fire. The men quickly reacted and used fire extinguishers from the ODOT vehicles that were nearby to assist them in pulling Seeley from the burning vehicle before it was completely engulfed in flames. Robinson then began performing CPR on Seeley. Once Seeley was revived, Robinson and Conine moved him further from the burning truck, with assistance from Deputy Nate Murphy who had then arrived on the scene. Deputy Murphy had to perform CPR on Seeley again prior to the Weston EMS arriving to then transport Seeley to the hospital. Seeley was later sent by Life Flight to St. Vincent’s Hospital in Toledo. If it weren’t for the initial quick actions of Brian Robinson and Brandon Conine, Kenneth Seeley may not have survived.
- On the night of February 12, 2016, Aaron Beck was driving back home from a BGSU hockey game with his eight-year old son, Conner. As they passed Pemberville Rd. on Route 6, Conner noticed his Dad slowing down and asked him why. His dad replied that he wasn’t feeling well and had abdominal pain. At that point, his dad passed out and the truck went off the road, through a ravine and landing on the railroad tracks, about 30 feet from the crossing gate. Conner’s dad, who is also a firefighter/EMT, regained consciousness but was too weak to walk. Conner turned on the emergency lights on the truck, hoping to attract help. Conner and his dad then looked around in the truck for his dad’s phone and called 911. Conner told the dispatcher everything that happened and that they were stuck on the railroad tracks. Conner then went to Route 6 to try to flag down help, but no one would stop. At that point Conner returned to the truck to help his Dad get out and away from the railroad tracks. The Sheriff’s deputy arrived and both Conner and his dad were taken to the hospital where Conner’s Dad was treated and admitted. At only eight years old, Conner’s bravery and heroic actions are to be commended.
Service to Others Award
- Patrolman Tyson Richmond was the first on the scene when units were dispatched to an apartment building on Klotz Road in Bowling Green for an 18 year old male who was not breathing, as a result of a possible overdose. Richmond began rescue breathing and continued to administer breaths to the victim until the BGFD arrived on the scene and took over. The victim required multiple doses of Narcan to revive him. BGFD personnel stated that Ptl. Richmond’s quick assessment and swift actions helped to save the man’s life and prevented further injury to the victim by ensuring he did not have a lack of oxygen.
Good Samaritan Award
- On April 12, 2016, Geraldine Emmons was getting ready to go to her doctor’s appointment. As she was attempting to walk to car, Ms. Emmons began to experience intense pain and found herself unable to get into her car. Wesley Stiner observed Ms. Emmons’ struggling and immediately came to her aid, assisting her with getting in her car and offering to take her to her doctor’s appointment. Once at the appointment, Mr. Stiner assisted Ms. Emmons inside and patiently waited with her. Emmons was instructed by her doctor to go to the hospital and once again, Mr. Stiner selflessly volunteered to escort Ms. Emmons to the hospital and wait with her there. Ms. Emmons called her daughter, Karen, who lives an hour away to inform her that she was at the hospital. When Karen arrived, she found Mr. Stiner still waiting in the ER with her mom. Mr. Stiner’s commendable act of kindness is one to be admired.
- Good Samaritans are shining examples of individuals who are in the right place at the right time. While playing golf, friends and neighbors Gary Spencer and Thomas Harper experienced that fate. During their game, Spencer collapsed on the course and Harper acted quickly, getting his golf partner to Harper’s nearby home and calling 911. Spencer was taken to the hospital and then life-flighted to UTMC, as a result of suffering a stroke and having a blood clot in his brain. At UTMC, doctors then removed the blood clot from his brain and Spencer made a complete and full recovery without any complications or side effects.
- On the afternoon of December 29, 2015, Henry Park suddenly collapsed at the Cinemark Movie Theater at the Woodland Mall in Bowling Green. Standing directly behind Mr. Park was Robert Fyfe, an off-duty first responder who immediately came to the aid of Mr. Park and began administering CPR. At the same time Fyfe was assisting Park, movie patrons began asking in the theater if anyone else could help with the medical emergency. James Oberlander, a nursing instructor at UTMC, quickly responded and began assisting Fyfe. The two men were able to revive Mr. Park and stabilize him until the EMS arrived to transport Mr. Park to the hospital.
- On a winter evening in 2015, Corey Stulpin was a passenger in a car driven by Brian Kotula. It was around 9pm and the two were riding on Dowling Road in Perrysburg when Stulpin suddenly noticed a person lying on the ground. Stulpin quickly alerted Kotula to what he saw and they turned around to find Dan Schimmoeller lying on the ground outside his home. The two men assisted Mr. Schimmoeller, who had suffered a medical emergency and 911 was dispatched. After Mr. Schimmoeller was stabilized, it was discovered that his wife was ill and in bed and wouldn’t have noticed that he hadn’t returned back from being outside. Had Corey Stulpin not noticed Dan Schimmoeller lying on the ground needing assistance, Mr. Schimmoeller may not have been found until the next day.