Saving a life

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Saving a life

McCook cop prevents woman’s likely fatal fall

By Steve Metsch

McCook Police Officer Michael Buenik said it was just another night at the office and that  ”anyone else would have done this.”

“This” was his saving a woman’s life in the wee hours.

Buenik, 28, was honored at the McCook Village Board meeting on March 16 with a Meritorious Conduct Award.

Police Chief Mario DePasquale said his officers were responding shortly after 4 a.m. on Dec. 15 to report “of a woman walking in and out of traffic” on the Route 171 (or First Avenue) bridge over Interstate.

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“(Buenik) located her. She was on the northbound side of Route 171 because it’s separated there, on top of I-55 … She was trying to climb over the barrier, probably had no idea that she was about to fall down on I-55,” DePasquale said.

The fall to the highway below is about 40 feet, he said.

“He had to run over and physically drag her off the barrier, and hold her on the ground until paramedics showed up. She was having some kind of issue,” DePasquale said.

Recalling that night, Buenik said that “by the time I caught up with her … the first thing I saw was her trying to get over the barrier.”

He exited his squad car “and ran up to her when she tried to climb over the barrier once more.”

Buenik said the woman refused to get off the barrier “and was screaming.” He was able to pry her off the barrier and hold her down until an ambulance arrived.

“We got her transported out of there in an ambulance, and that was it,” he added.

Buenik has been on the McCook Police Department for five years.

During the same board meeting, a 13-year member of the department, Rachel Huedepohl, 35, was promoted from sergeant to lieutenant.

“What does it mean to me? A lot.  A huge accomplishment. One of my goals that I’ve checked off my list,” the mother of three young children said in the lobby.

Steve Metsch
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