University police officer honored for rescue of student
Thursday was Chris Heleine's wedding anniversary, but the Indiana
State University police officer and his wife Natalie decided to wait a
day to formally mark four years together.
"I can't handle two celebrations on the same day," Heleine quipped.
The celebration that took precedence on Thursday came from the Terre
Haute Breakfast Optimist Club, which honored Heleine for rescuing a
student from a burning car by presenting him with its prestigious W.
Kevin Artz Outstanding Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award.
Club President Ed Cook said the award reflects the respect and
admiration Optimists have for all law enforcement agencies and officers
in the Terre Haute area.
"This year we received several outstanding nominations for the award
making it a difficult selection process. However, it was obvious that
Officer Heleine's heroic actions were an outstanding example of the
‘above the call-of-duty' actions that this award represents," Cook said.
"We are pleased that we could present Officer Heleine with the award and
wish him the best of success."
University Police Chief Bill Mercier nominated Heleine for his
efforts in responding to a car fire on a campus parking lot last
November where he found the driver slumped over the wheel. Unable to
open the driver's door, Heleine pulled the unconscious motorist to
safety through the passenger side as smoke filled the interior of the
vehicle. The car had crashed into several parked vehicles, the engine
was still running and the car's spinning front tires had caught fire.
Seconds after the rescue, the rest of the car burst into flames. A
nearby security camera captured the incident.
Investigators later determined the driver, Indiana State student Mark
McKinley, suffered a medical incident that resulted in the crash.
McKinley has since fully recovered from his injuries.
"Acting with total disregard for his own safety, Officer Heleine's
actions directly resulted in Mr. McKinley's life being saved," Mercier
said in his nomination. Earlier this year, Heleine received the
university police department's Lifesaving Award. "Saving a human life is
truly the most important single act any law enforcement officer can
perform. When that act involves putting his own life at risk, as it did
with Officer Heleine, it becomes truly heroic.
Chris' actions not only reflect well on him personally but on all the
fine men and women we have serving as police officers at Indiana State
The Optimist Club has presented the award annually since 1988 in
memory of Kevin Artz, a Vigo County sheriff's deputy killed in the line
of duty in 1987 while responding to a domestic disturbance. This marks
the second time the award has gone to an Indiana State University police
officer. In 2008, Cpl. Ian Loomis and Officer David Glick were
recognized for saving the life of a professor who suffered a heart
attack in his office.
"I'm very grateful for this award," Heleine said. "I didn't know
Kevin but I know he was a good man. It always hurts when you lose
someone in the line of duty. To receive an award in his name brings me a
lot of joy. I appreciate the Optimist Club recognizing the work of area
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