Police chief: Grass Valley officer’s ‘heroic’ actions saved man’s life

Local News

GRASS VALLEY, Calif. (KTXL) — A Grass Valley police officer may be getting a commendation for his role in saving the life of a fire victim, even though he’s choosing not to be recognized.

When two Grass Valley police officers beat firefighters to the scene of a house fire on Feb. 18, they did not think twice about waiting for backup to arrive.

Next door neighbor Kathleen Stradinger tried to get into the front door with her son when she saw the fire but they were overcome by smoke.

“It was so thick, so black I could only go 3 or 4 feet into the house,” she told FOX40.

The officers did not enter the front of the house for the same reason.

Kathleen knew her neighbor stayed almost exclusively in his back bedroom and that’s where officers headed.

No one answered their calls but that did not stop one officer. Crouching below the smoke, he saw the victim lying on the ground.

The man had third-degree burns to his legs and may have burned his lungs, but medics got to him in time. He is still at the UC Davis Medical Center healing from severe burns but is in stable condition.

“It’s heroic, there’s no other way to describe it,” said Grass Valley Police Chief Alex Gammelgard.

The officer stayed low and chose to make entry without fire gear or breathing apparatus.

Neighbors were trying to turn off the natural gas to the house at the time and said officers could have waited for help.

“The fact the fire department was almost here, perhaps they’d back off a bit,” said neighbor Neil Stradlinger.

In these kind of situations, police officers are not required to risk their lives.

“In no way, shape or form would an officer be questioned or sanctioned for not making this entry,” Gammelgard said. “Rather, they should be commended for putting their life in danger to save the life of somebody else.”

The officer is in his 20s and has been on the force less than a year after spending time as a reserve officer.

But he chose not to make his name known for the story, preferring not to draw attention to himself. But his boss said he will get some attention, like it or not.

“No doubt this officer will be commended for his actions,” the police chief said.

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