Chicago Police Memorial Foundation honors two Chicago police sergeants and five Chicago police officers as part of its Officer of the Month program
This morning the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation honors two Chicago Police Sergeants and five Chicago Police Officers who helped save two women from a house fire.
On May 9th, Chicago Police Officers from the 4th district were handling a domestic disturbance near 79th and Muskegon. While typically the Officers are called in to restore peace, sometimes the disturbance can turn ugly and violent. The wrong words or actions can easily send the situation into a dangerous place. That night, this domestic was one with two longtime partners who would not listen to the responding officers. A supervisor was called in to assist. Sergeant Scott Hall responded and even with additional resources, the disagreement raged on until the decision was made to arrest both partners. By this time, additional Officers had responded to help out, including another supervisor, Sergeant Carlos Sanchez. The offenders were placed in squads and all were ready to move to the next assignment when a man ran from his house directly across the street screaming that his wife and daughter were trapped in their home that was now on fire.
Without missing a beat, the officers moved from enforcers of peace to lifesavers. Officer Deonvelle Lamon kicked in the front door and Sergeants Hall and Sanchez went inside screaming for the women to follow their voices. They searched for victims and heard a woman screaming behind a bedroom door. Sergeant Sanchez kicked at the door but it would not open. The dense smoke caused the officers to head outside to catch their breath and regroup.
Additional Officers responded and searched for another entrance to the house. Sergeant Hall and Officers headed to the rear of the building where Lamon kicked in the rear door. Officers Lyle Jandecek, Timothy Griffin and Robert Skrobot followed Hall and Lamon into the rear of the building. The smoke was so thick the Officers had to crawl on their hands and knees to search for the women. Miraculously, Lamon heard a voice and was able to pull the mother to safety.
Meanwhile, Sergeant Sanchez continued to try to bust down the bedroom door but the flames and smoke were intolerable causing them to retreat outside to regroup. They learned from the father that his daughter was wheelchair bound. The Sergeants returned into the burning building a third time to attempt to rescue the daughter. The daughter’s bedroom door was engulfed in flames and the officers continued to try to break it down; however, the deadly smoke overtook the Officers and Sergeants forcing them to again leave the building. Officer Yuan made a final attempt to rescue the daughter but he too was quickly overcome by the thick smoke and retreated outside.
At this point, the Chicago Fire Department arrived and the officers led them to where the daughter could be found. The Chicago Fire Department went in and rescued the daughter who was trapped in her bed. The ceiling had collapsed blocking the door which is why the Officers were not able to open it.
The mother and daughter were taken to the hospital. The mother survived, but sadly, weeks later, the daughter succumbed to her severe burns.
Sergeants Hall and Sanchez were transported by ambulance to the University of Chicago Hospital where Sergeant Sanchez was released after some medical treatment. Some of the other Officers were also treated by medical personnel and released; however, Sergeant Scott Hall was hospitalized and suffered permanent injuries to his respiratory system.
“The officers that evening did what many police officers do on every watch in this city -- they come when people ask for help. When these officers and sergeants responded to a call of a domestic disturbance, they never imagined they would be risking their lives to save others in a house fire but it was what their job called for that night,” said Phil Cline, Executive Director of the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation.
Today, more than ever, their jobs are not easy ones. These Officers are called to make tough decisions, and on that morning, they worked as a team with one goal to save the mother and daughter. Doing so without concern for their own wellbeing. It is our honor to award these heroes with our appreciation and we proudly make them our July Officers of the Month, presented by Galls.