Lake County cop saves 2 men in house fire
By Carole Carlson email@example.com/648-3154 September 28, 2012 3:54PM
Amber Thomas, Lake County officer. | Provided Photo~Sun-Times Media ptmet
Updated: October 30, 2012 6:08AM
CALUMET TWP. — A Lake County Sheriff’s Department officer is being hailed as a hero after rescuing two men from a burning house Thursday night.
Another county police officer saved a dog, performing CPR on it with newly acquired resuscitation equipment designed for animals.
Lake County Sheriff John Buncich said he will nominate Officer Amber Thomas, a canine officer, for a lifesaving award and recommend a commendation for Officer Michael Stewart, as well. “Going into a burning home is just indicative of how dangerous the job is,” said Buncich, who said Thomas has been with the department about six years.
Nancy Johnson and her family were removing their belongings from the house in the 4300 block of West 45th Avenue Friday afternoon and counting their blessings. They heaped praise on Thomas and other police and Lake Ridge firefighters who responded to the fire that’s believed to have originated in the laundry room.
“We wouldn’t be here without them,” said Jason Johnson, 28, who lives at the house with his mother and four other family members.
Family members were evacuating the house after they awakened and smelled the fire, Nancy Johnson said. All were safely outside and then her father, Ossie Bewley, 80, went back in for his wallet and walker. Jason Johnson followed his grandfather back in.
“I turned around and the door had shut,” said Nancy Johnson. “When I opened it and let air in, the ceiling caught fire.” She said flames were nipping on her son Jason’s back as he stumbled toward Bewley.
Jason Johnson pulled his grandfather toward the home’s front door and he collapsed from smoke inhalation near the door. “Grandpa was on his knees,” said Jason Johnson. “He grabbed my ankle and we went toward the door, but we were stuck in the hallway. I was spent.”
He said Thomas came through the door and dragged him out to the front stoop. Then, she returned and pulled Bewley out to the stoop.
Both were treated by medics at the scene. Johnson said he went to the hospital and was treated for smoke inhalation.
Police entered the garage and found two trapped dogs, Angel, a husky-mix, and Foley, a pit bull. Stewart performed cardio-pulmonary resuscitation on Angel who was faintly breathing. Angel survived, but Foley died at the scene.
“They got here quick,” said Nancy Johnson. “It only took six minutes. When they pulled Angel out, she could barely move her lip,” she said. “Now, she’s OK, but she misses Foley.”
After firefighters left, they found the family cat, Mick, safe in a bedroom with singed whiskers but otherwise OK.