SOUTH PORTLAND — The Maine Chiefs of Police Association honored several of its own at an annual banquet but also singled out civilians for life-saving achievements last year.

Among those recognized were five people who responded to a police boat crash on the Saco River in Fryeburg last May.

The Fryebrug police boat was responding to a capsized canoe when it struck an object in the water. Officers Nathan Desjardins and Dale Stout were thrown from the boat.

Desjardins, who was 20, later died from his injuries. The woman whose canoe capsized, Jennifer Bousquet, 38, of South Berwick, also died from drowning. Her body was found four days later.

But the actions of the five people – Paul Hall of Saco, Scott Bean of Northfield, N.H., Rebecca Stern of Norwich, Vt., and Vanessa Soetanto and Ashley Hamel, both of Lebanon, N.H. – who were nearby when the boat crashed, likely saved Stout’s life, said Brad Paul, former Saco police chief who led the awards committee and emceed Friday’s event.

Also recognized were five citizens who assisted in pulling a woman from her burning vehicle after it crashed into a tree in Limington last August.

Janet Heggeman, 63, was driving her 2013 Buick Lacrosse on Route 25 toward Cornish when she lost control and the car went off the road. The car struck a tree head-on and then burst into flames, trapping her inside.

Joseph Parent, 82, was one of five men who stopped to help.

“The car was on fire. It was pretty harrowing,” Parent said in an interview last year. “The smoke was unbelievable. I couldn’t see the lady’s face, it was that thick.”

Donald Corbett of Old Orchard Beach, Mark Cable of New Gloucester, David Tetreault of Brownfield and Timothy Paquette of Saco helped Parent extricate Heggeman from the burning vehicle that bystanders warned could have exploded.

Paul said Heggeman spent nine days in intensive care and underwent several surgeries. She is currently recuperating at home.

Three young men who were fishing on Little Ossipee Lake last February were recognized for springing into action after a snowmobiler swerved to avoid open water, throwing his passenger off the sled. Bill Rodgers, Brandon Jackson and Travis Dion used rope to pull the 16-year-old female passenger to safety in a rescue that was captured on Jackson’s helmet camera and broadcast on local newscasts that night.

Joshua Galvin of Portland was recognized for his quick thinking that may have prevented 25 children from being harmed when their day care bus driver suffered a cardiac emergency last July in Scarborough. Paul said Galvin was on a field trip with 25 3- and 4-year-old children, who attend Toddle Inn Child Care, when the bus braked sharply as it approached a curve.

Galvin ran to the front of the bus, removed the driver’s feet from the pedal, and was able to bring the bus to a halt. None of the children was injured and the bus driver was treated and released from a local hospital.

“It’s often the most ordinary of people who are capable of some of the most extraordinary things,” Paul said Friday.

He said he was fortunate enough to be the one to call each of the recipients to tell them about the award and said, in each instance, those conversations were uplifting.

“I’m struck and sometimes humbled when they say a version of, ‘I didn’t do that for any recognition,’ or ‘I just did what anyone else would do,'” he said. “The people we honor are special and while we honor them, they honor us with their presence here tonight.”

There were numerous other acts of courage honored at the annual event, some carried out by police.

Maine State Police Lt. Scott Ireland, while off duty, stopped to pull a 12-year-old girl off a bridge ledge in Augusta last March after she threatened to jump. Paul said the girl was distraught after an argument with her family and walked to the Kennebec River bridge to end her life.

Sgt. Scott Curtis with University of Maine Police Department also was recognized for saving a female college student from jumping out of a fourth-floor dorm room at York Hall last November. Curtis gained entry to a locked room adjacent the ledge and persuaded her to go inside.

Cumberland Police Department Sgt. Thomas Burgess may have saved a military veteran’s life after he was assigned last September to conduct a well-being check on the 80-year-old man.

Burgess discovered the man had no food in his home and what little food he did have was rotted or insect-infested. Burgess obtained fresh fruit and vegetables from the Cumberland food pantry and took the time to prepare the man a meal.

Burgess then spent several days cleaning and sanitizing the man’s living area, which had fallen into a state of uncleanliness. He also notified Aging in Place, Meals on Wheels and the V.A Hospital about the man’s situation. Burgess contacted members of the man’s family, who live out of state and were unaware of his living situation.

“The family took the man in, a very positive result and a new beginning for him,” Paul said. “Sgt. Burgess’ actions were truly above and beyond.”

Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or at:

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Twitter: PPHEricRussell

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

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