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Aug 1, 2017

Police rewarded for heroic river rescue

It is not often that the good deeds by cops are celebrated publicly – but two officers attached to the San Ignacio Police Station are being praised by their Department and the public they serve for saving three teenagers from drowning. From all accounts, it is unlikely that the boys would have survived the strong currents and high water of the Macal River after they became stranded over the weekend. The two cops risked their lives and removed the boys from danger and today they were recognized with a certificate and a lunch. Andrea Polanco was at today’s ceremony and has more.

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

They are being called ‘heroes’ – but for these two cops they were simply doing their job when they risked their lives to rescue three teens from drowning. Today, Police Constables Derwin Garcia and Daniel Choc were recognized for their act of bravery. They each received a certificate of commendation from the Commissioner of Police and it was handed over by Officer in Charge of the San Ignacio Police Superintendent Richard Rosado and Deputy Commissioner of Police Noel Leal.

 

PC Derwin Garcia, Recognised for Bravery

PC Derwin Garcia

“It feels pretty good, knowing the fact that we did something right. As always, you know, Police Officers are pin pointed as for the negativity they have done, but for today, it feels really good to be doing something good for the Department.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Is this the first time you’ve done this kinda rescue?”

 

PC Derwin Garcia

“For me, it is the first time I have done something like this within the department. And without hesitation, if it comes by me again, I won’t be afraid to do it because our job and objective is to maintain life and property.”

 

PC Daniel Choc

PC Daniel Choc, Recognised for Bravery

“I am glad that they are doing this – they recognize the good thing that we do. Likewise, I am glad with that kids that they are safe home with their parents.”

 

PCs Garcia and Choc were at work like any regular day on Saturday. They got a distress call around three that afternoon that three boys were stranded in the Macal River in Cristo Rey Village when their canoe broke apart after it slammed into a tree branch in the river. The teenagers managed to hold on to a piece of log in the middle of the river until help arrived. Six officers went out to Cristo Rey and it took them less than twenty minutes to get into action. The boys informed the officers that they didn’t know how to swim and one of the boys had an injured foot, so Officers Garcia and Choc took the lead. As seen in this video captured by a cell phone, the officers used this rope which was on the river bank – and they braved the strong river currents rescuing the boys one at a time and in about forty minutes seventeen year olds Kevin Requena and Bryan Oliva and fifteen year old Leighi Alvarado all of Santa Elena Town were saved from drowning.

PC Daniel Choc

“When I arrived at the river, I was nervous because I don’t know what was the challenge I would go through with the currents inside. I tried my best and the role that I played there was to ensure that if the rope slipped from their waist, I would be the one swimming for them. It was very tough for me. I wasn’t prepared for it but I had to go in and assist them and like what I tell the guy injured I would ensure that I would get him to the river bank safely; that is my job.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Did you guys strategize on the way over as to what you would do or is it when you got to the location you decided this is the plan of action?”

 

PC Daniel Choc

“When we received that call of stress, we didn’t have any plans or anything. We just went there and check if it was true and when I arrived there, I didn’t speak to him and he didn’t speak to me, we just hurry jump into action and start do what I need to do.”

 

PC Derwin Garcia

“Once the boys were – the rope was tied around the boys’ waist and they let go from the current, my job was to ensure that even though the current was quite strong, I was to pull them into safety on to the river bank. Our initiative was to get the first one that was injured out of the water, because he looked like the one sustaining the most injuries whilst in the river.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“What was the biggest challenge for you? Was it the strength of the current?”

 

PC Derwin Garcia

“Yeah, the difficulty was the strength of the current and likewise, whilst the boy was already on land we had to ferry him up the hill which was a good twenty foot drop hill and then we had to make sure he was placed in the police mobile to send to the hospital to receive treatment.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“What was it like communicating with those boys then, were they very frightened? Were they scared?”

 

PC Derwin Garcia

“They were very scared when we arrived. PC Choc asked them if they could swim and advised them not to panic or do anything at the moment until he arrived to them to throw the rope and to tie it around them to be taken out of the river.”

 

And this act of bravery is being celebrated by the Police Department.

 

Noel Leal, Deputy Commissioner of Police

Noel Leal

“A proud day – it feels proud to be a member of the Police Department on occasions like these. There will be times when we feel bad when sometimes some of our officers go on the wrong side of when they go rouge or do indiscipline things for which we have to discipline them. But this is one of the days – 99 out of 100 times the police does good things, both for the community and the people we serve.”

 

Supt Richard Rosado

Supt Richard Rosado, Officer in Charge, San Ignacio Police

“PC Coc and PC Garcia, without taking into consideration the risk, they sprung into action and I am truly thankful for what they did to assist the three teenagers in the river.”

 

Andrea Polanco reporting for News Five.

 

It is expected that the two cops will also get a day of recognition from the office of the Commissioner of Police.

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