Officers lauded for work in the last year

NEWPORT BEACH — From pulling people from burning cars to hauling a downed plane out of mud and water, business leaders and Newport Beach city officials were regaled Wednesday with stories of police officers' actions in the last year.

The stories were part of the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce's 40th annual Police Appreciation Breakfast.

"These awards are representative of a great many more acts by our Police Department every day," said Mayor Mike Henn.

Officers were lauded in two categories: lifesaving and merit. A committee of department leaders nominated officers they identified as deserving. Police Chief Jay Johnson made the final selections.

Nine officers were recognized for their actions during the November crash of a single-engine plane in the Upper Newport Bay.

Although the three passengers in the plane drowned, four officers were recognized for selflessly jumping into the frigid, murky water tainted with aviation fuel to try and save them. Five others were given lifesaving awards for following in after them and helping to tie rope around the plane to pull it onto land.

For the second year in a row, an officer saved a man from a burning car. Officer Shawn Dugan responded to a report of a truck crashing into a light pole off Bayside Drive and East Coast Highway. The engine block had caught on fire and flames were engulfing the truck when Dugan and a civilian pulled the driver out through the window.

In all, 18 people were recognized:

Officer of the Year: Todd Bush

Supervisor of the Year: Sgt. Evan Sailor

Civilian of the Year: Kim Kerr

Reserve Officer of the Year: Steve Schogel

Volunteer of the Year: Ed Reuscher

Award of Merit: Officers Adam Gilbert, Todd Vinson, William Hanson, John Mika

Lifesaving Award: Lt. Jeff Brouwer, officers T. C. Smith, Brice Hardy, Eric Little, Joe Park, Jeremy Dutton and Shawn Dugan, and Reserve Officer Randy Card and Det. Scott Smith

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