Page 62 - FOP May 2019 Magazine
P. 62

C hoors officers for resce fro frigid ae
Not even some of the winter’s most brutal temperatures could prevent sev- eral Chicago Police Officers from risking their lives to save a man and his dog from frigid Lake Michigan in January.
Around 1 p.m. on Jan. 27, Eric Gale was along the lakefront when his canine companion went into the icy waters. Gale did the same to rescue the dog, Pika, but then himself became submerged in the lake on a day when the water tempera- ture was 34 degrees, but the air temp was only about nine degrees. Five quick- acting officers and a sergeant jumped into action to save Gale, heroics which earned them the Chicago Police Memo- rial Foundation’s Officers of the Month award for April.
Field Training Officer Miguel Del Toro was patrolling the lakefront and learned from a citizen that a man had fallen into the lake. Del Toro radioed it in after a witness directed him to a spot on the ice about 200 feet from the water’s edge. While firefighters were called to respond, Officers Adam O’Campo and Brian Rich- ards, along with Field Training Officer Andrew Larson, Probationary Police Of- ficer Eithan Ferman and Sergeant Ale- jandro Silva, quickly responded, know-
ing Gale was in dire need of help after lifting Pika out of the icy lake waters.
Officials said Gale was quickly be- coming disoriented, losing control of his hands and feet, and likely would not survive much longer in the water. O’Campo, Richards, Del Toro, Larson and Silva braved the ice over the water and approached Gale. The thin, unsta- ble ice was precarious, causing the offi- cers to fall repeatedly. At one point, Silva stepped through the ice into the water beneath. Several of the officers suffered injuries, though nothing severe, as they formed a human chain to secure them- selves to attempt a rescue of Gale.
In a scene captured on body-camera footage, the linked officers used a dog leash borrowed from a witness to reach Gale and quickly drag him to safety. At the same time, Ferman straddled that same dangerous ice shelf to retrieve nine-month-old Pika. Gale was trans- ported to the hospital, where he was treated for exposure to the intensely cold water.
“I have no doubt I would have died without their help,” said Gale, whose core body temperature had dropped to 93 degrees while in water up to his head. “I am forever grateful to them.”
 25th District takes a cut for a worthy cause
Clippers buzzed, scissors snipped and good vibes filled the air as officers in the 25th District hosted their 10th annual St. Baldrick’s Day extravaganza on April 26. About 30 people shaved their heads in the name of pediatric cancer, and the group raised almost $5,000 in donations for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation.
“Pediatric cancer research, I think, is a top priority,” said Sergeant Thomas Cot- ter. “Anyone who has had to deal with a sick child knows how much that can pull at your heartstrings. If we can make a difference and stop cancer from killing children, then I’m all for it.”
The illness and its impact hit close to home for many CPD officers whose chil- dren have lost their battles with cancer. A detective and friend of Cotter’s had a child pass away several years ago after being diagnosed. And while Cotter’s chil- dren are now grown, “they were babies once,” he shared. “I can’t imagine losing my child to brain cancer.” And so, in an
effort to stand up for these children, help prevent deaths and promote research, the 25th comes together once a year.
At district headquarters, officers in- flated balloons to prep for the hair-cut- ting extravaganza. They also have fun, eat food and shave heads in the quest to support a worthy cause. Senior clubs and faith-based groups turned up to mingle. Even folks with no intention of shaving their heads came for community out- reach and fellowship.
Several long-locked women who opt- ed out of a shave instead got inches upon inches of their hair chopped. Those locks were donated to a nonprofit that makes wigs for children undergoing chemo.
Cotter, however, was one of the brave. But, sporting the look and knowing why he rocks it is a point of pride.
“We shave our heads to stand in sol- idarity with kids who are in chemo. It really makes you feel special,” he said. “We want them to know that we haven’t forgotten about them and their families.”

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