A man who rescued an elderly motorist from his vehicle sinking in the Hawkesbury River, seven people who assisted in separate drowning incidents, and local officers' ethical and diligent service has been recognised at an awards presentation by Hawkesbury Police Area Command (PAC).
Serving and former police officers as well as members of the public were presented with medals and awards at a ceremony held in conjunction with Blue Mountains PAC at Springwood Bowling Club on Thursday, November 21.
Bradley Johnston received a commendation from the Hawkesbury Police Area Commander for his actions rescuing a man who had driven into the river at Pitt Town in June last year.
Mr Johnston had spotted a vehicle driving erratically and followed it, calling emergency services when it eventually drove off Punt Road into the river. Concerned for the safety of the driver, he swam into the water himself.
"Mr Johnston found the elderly male in the driver's seat, who was unresponsive despite being awake," Chief Inspector Peter Sheinflug of Blue Mountains PAC told the gathering. "Mr Johnston smashed the window of the vehicle and was able to safely remove the elderly driver prior to the arrival of emergency services."
Timothy Derrett and Nicholas Walton were recognised for their actions in attempting to resuscitate a man who had gone under the water while swimming in the Colo River on December 2 of last year.
The man was found by Mr Walton, who brought him to the riverbank assisted by kayakers before commencing cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Mr Derrett started expired air resuscitation until emergency services arrived.
Unfortunately the man was unable to be revived, however "the selfless actions of Mr Walton and Mr Derrett are commended, as is the professionalism ... and the teamwork of officers involved in this incident," Chief Inspector Sheinflug said.
Sergeant Geoffrey Steer, Senior Constables Evan Cratchley, Trent Giles and Sandi Palmer, and Constable David Weiss received Hawkesbury Police Area Commander unit citations for their actions on the day.
Lachlan Abela, Joshua Baker and Allen Fuimaono were also recognised for their actions on December 8, 2018 at Windsor, when a man went under the water while swimming across the river.
"[The three] ran into the water to assist and placed their own lives at risk in an attempt to pull [him] above the waterline," Chief Inspector Sheinflug said. "Whilst an extremely traumatic experience with a devastating outcome, the ... actions of Mr Fuimaono, Mr Baker and Mr Abela are recognised and highly commended as a selfless act to try and save the life of a stranger."
Martina and Alexander Potgieter were also recognised for assisting in the search for the man from their boat for more than six hours.
Other Hawkesbury officers were recognised for their service, including Senior Constable Julie Day who received the 4th Clasp to the NSW Police Medal, and Sergeant Geoffrey Steer who received the 2nd Clasp. Sergeant Steer also received the State Crime Commander's Citation. Lynn Best received the NSW Police Medallion Lapel Pin for unsworn officers for 30 years' service.