Two troopers, deputy receive national award for life-saving efforts

Left to right: Trooper Rick Carlson and Trooper Jim Leonard of the Michigan State Police, and Deputy Justin Holzschu of the Otsego County (MI) Sheriff’s Department. (Courtesy: Michigan State Police and Otsego County Sheriff's Department)

NORTHERN MICHIGAN (WPBN/WGTU)-- The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund has selected two troopers with the Michigan State Police and a deputy with the Otsego County Sheriff's Department as the recipients of its Officer of the Month Award.

Trooper Jim Leonard and trooper Rick Carlson of the Michigan State Police and deputy Justin Holzschu of the Otsego County Sheriff's Department were the recipients of the March 2016 award.

The officers were given the award because of their quick actions that helped save a two-year-old from a burning house.

The incident happened just before 12:30 a.m. on January 29, 2015. A babysitter was sleeping at the house where she was watching two young children when she woke up to the house in flames.

The babysitter was able to get a seven-year-old girl out of the house, but the flames kept the babysitter from reaching two-year-old Kingston, who was sleeping in a bedroom in the back of the house. The babysitter then ran to the neighbor's house to call 911.

Michigan State troopers Leonard and Carlson got a call from dispatch and were on the scene within five minutes, followed closely by deputy Holzschu. The troopers and deputy tried to make their way into the house, but the fire and smoke made it impossible. When the officers learned the child was in the back of the house, they broke through glass patio doors, but they were unsuccessful in making it more than a few feet before being overcome by smoke.

Deputy Holzschu then broke windows on the side of the house to let smoke escape, allowing troopers Leonard and Carlson to enter the house and rescue the unresponsive two-year-old from his crib.

As soon as officers left the house, the troopers began performing CPR on the boy and were able to restore breathing and a pulse. Both children were taken to the hospital where they recovered.

"We're humbled by their bravery, by their response and risking their lives," said Lt. Derrick Carroll, Assistant Post Commander of the Michigan State Police Gaylord Post. "They saved that baby."
"If they didn't get there and do what they did, the child may have died," said Otsego County Undersheriff Matt Muladore.
"The actions of these three heroes saved the life of a small child," Memorial Fund Chairman and CEO Craig W. Floyd said. "They never gave up, repeatedly putting their lives in danger. I am deeply proud these troopers and this deputy are receiving our March 2016 Officers of the Month Award."

Located in the nation's capital, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund is a nonprofit organization dedicated to honoring the service and sacrifice of America's law enforcement officers. The Memorial Fund's Officer of the Month Award Program began in 1996 and recognizes federal, state, and local officers who distinguish themselves through exemplary law enforcement service and devotion to duty.

Troopers Jim Leonard and Rick Carlson and deputy Justin Holzschu, along with the other Officer of the Month Award recipients for 2016, will be honored during National Police Week at a special awards ceremony in Washington, DC, in May 2017.

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