By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News
Want more top stories? Sign up here for daily or weekly newsletters with our top news.
PORT ANGELES — Jim Klarr, light operations manager for the city of Port Angeles, was on duty Aug. 3 driving east on the Eighth Street bridge over Tumwater Truck Route when he saw something that worried him.
A teenage girl had one leg swung over the north handrail as she talked on her cellphone.
“And I thought that was kind of odd,” Klarr said Thursday.
Klarr, who lives in Sequim with his wife, initially drove past the scene but turned around when he saw others approaching the girl, who was 15 years old.
Klarr joined the growing crowd and soon learned she was intent on taking her own life.
Despite the girl's protestations, Klarr inched his way toward her until he was within 5 or 6 feet of her.
She then swung her other leg over the railing and let go.
“I know her hands weren't on the railings,” Klarr said.
Without thinking, Klarr lunged for the girl and was able to wrap both his arms around her before she slipped below the level of the railing.
Klarr then pulled her to the sidewalk as, within seconds, Port Angeles police officers arrived and took control of the situation.
“It happened so fast, I really for myself don't know how it happened,” Klarr said.
“I'm just glad it turned out the way it did.”
Klarr action was one of three recognized last week specifically for saving the lives of suicidal people in Port Angeles.
He was among good company at Tuesday's City Council meeting as he and nine emergency response personnel received medals recognizing human-life-saving efforts and exceptional service above and beyond their normal duties.
“I'm just so proud of them,” Police Chief Terry Gallagher said as he wiped away tears after the presentations of the awards.
During Tuesday's meeting, Gallagher handed out six Law Enforcement Life Saving Medals, five Law Enforcement Distinguished Service Medals and one Law Enforcement Meritorious Service Medal, which is awarded to an officer or civilian who performs an action in which he or she was conscious of an imminent danger to his or her safety.
Klarr, who received the Meritorious Service Medal, was the only city employee to receive an award that night; the rest were either law enforcement officers or emergency dispatchers.
The Life Saving Medal is awarded when an employee applies necessary skills in a situation that leads to the saving of a human life, while the Distinguished Service Medal is awarded when an employee uses his or her skills to complete a task over and above those routinely undertaken.
Two Port Angeles police officers won medals in both categories, Cpl. Kevin Miller and Officer John Nutter, who also serves as an Olympic Medical Center commissioner.
Life Saving Medals
The Life Saving Medal recipients were, as described by Gallagher:
■ Allen Brusseau
On Sept. 3, Port Angeles Police Officer Allen Brusseau arrived within one minute of being dispatched to the report of a man straddling the guardrail of the west Eighth Street bridge.
With three other officers backing him up, Brusseau approached a 23-year-old man who was threatening to jump off the bridge and spoke with him calmly until he got close enough to grab him by his shirt collar and pull him to safety to the sidewalk side of the bridge.
The man was transported to Olympic Medical Center for evaluation and treatment.
■ David Dombrowski, Brian Stamon, Brian Knutson
Port Angeles Police Officers David Dombrowski and Brian Stamon and Clallam County Sheriff's Deputy Brian Knutson helped a 22-year-old man who was found lying on the ground not breathing and without a pulse.
The three were investigating a report received in the early morning hours of Oct. 1 of a downed bicycle rider in an alley off Peabody Street.
They immediately began cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, and used a portable automatic external defibrillator stored in one of the officers' patrol cars.
The officers and deputy continued aid until the arrival of Port Angeles Fire Department medics, who were able to successfully resuscitate the 22-year-old and take him to OMC.
■ Kevin Miller
In the early evening of Nov. 11, 2011, Port Angeles Police Cpl. Kevin Miller talked a suicidal woman from the edge of a bluff in west Port Angeles.
Once he and other officers arrived, Miller began speaking with the 22-year-old, who was just feet from the edge of the bluff.
Miller slowly approached the woman, with no safety line, and was able to talk her away from the edge and out of danger.
The woman was transported to the hospital for evaluation and treatment, after which she confirmed she had been intent on taking her own life by jumping off the bluff.
■ John Nutter
On March 4, 2010, Port Angeles Police Officer John Nutter was on patrol in his police car driving in the 400 block of East Second Street when he saw a man down on the sidewalk.
Nutter stopped his patrol car to investigate and found the man was not breathing and had no detectable pulse.
Nutter began CPR and continued for five minutes after Port Angeles Fire Department medics arrived.
The man was transported to the hospital and eventually revived, after which Nutter came to visit the man in his hospital room.
The patient was later sent home.
The Law Enforcement Distinguished Service Medal recipients were, as described by Gallagher:
■ Kylie Hatch
Communication Officer Kylie Hatch, who works as an emergency dispatcher for Peninsula Communications, or Pen Com, spoke calmly with the victim of a June 24 residential burglary after the woman confronted the burglar and attempted to defend herself with a firearm that failed to discharge.
The burglar fled, but Hatch's conversations with the woman during the 9-1-1 call gathered a great deal of significant information about the burglar that helped in the investigation and an eventual arrest, Gallagher said.
■ Karl Hatton, Glen Roggenbuck
Communication Supervisor Karl Hatton and Sgt. Glen Roggenbuck organized communications and security for the September 2011 celebration of the beginning of the removal of the two dams on the Elwha River.
The event featured numerous state and federal officials, including Gov. Chris Gregoire.
Roggenbuck was responsible for organizing the security for the event.
Hatton was responsible for the communications between all law enforcement that helped keep the event running safely and smoothly.
Miller, a master K-9 handler, in September 2011 gathered and organized police dog resources from across the state to patrol the formal start ceremony for the Elwha River restoration project.
In October 2011, Miller took his police dog partner, Jag, to the Advanced K-9 Handlers Course in Spokane, where he and Jag received the Top Dog Award as the finest K-9 team in the state.
That same month, Miller achieved master K-9 handler certification and returned to the advanced handler's course as an instructor.
While meeting his everyday responsibilities as a patrol officer, Nutter was instrumental in making sure the technical and logistical side of the Police Department's mesh wireless network integration went smoothly.
Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at email@example.com.