The Turlock Police Department bestowed commendation awards to a police officer and a citizen for their quick actions taken during moments of great crisis.
The police department and city officials honored Officer Paul Heppner for his actions turning a major traffic collision and resident Ana Ramirez, who saved a young boy and his dog from an attack by two Pitbulls.
Heppner was presented with the Medal of Meritorious Service for his life-saving actions on March 29. Heppner was the first officer on scene at a horrific collision at Golden State Boulevard and Fulkerth Road that had critically injured two young girls. Citizens had removed a 4-year-old girl from her car seat and handed her over to Heppner when they saw she had no pulse.
“There was a lot of panic,” Heppner said when recalling that day. “The mom was right behind me and there was a lot going through my head, but like they say, your training kicks in. It’s a cliché, but it’s true. It worked. I remember the AMR guy holding up his thumb when we got a pulse.”
“Due to Officer Heppner’s unselfish act and quick thinking, the young girl is alive today,” said Turlock Police Chief Nino Amirfar.
Heppner said he was honored and humbled with the recognition and said his actions would have been done by any of his fellow officers.
The commendation bestowed to Ramirez was a special one for the police department because it is rare that a community member takes actions that Amirfar described as “heroic.”
“It’s really an honor when we get to recognize one of our citizens for doing heroic acts,” Amirfar said. “That is what our community is all about … we are all part of one community, whether we are wearing the uniform that’s blue with a badge on it, or whatever we are wearing for the day. When there is a need to take action and save a life, we all have a hand in it.”
Ramirez was driving home on April 18 when she and her 15-year-old daughter saw two Pitbulls acting aggressive to 12-year-old Jose Ramos and his Husky dog Hercules. Ramos was walking his dog when they were rushed upon by the two dogs, with the male dog clamping his powerful jaws around the Husky’s neck.
Ramirez saw the attack and jumped into action. She immediately got out of her car to help the boy, who couldn’t free himself from the leash because it was wrapped around his hand.
“I thought I needed something to scare the dogs away and my first thought was the booster seat in my car,” Ramirez said. “I grabbed it and started yelling at the dogs and the female, who had just been barking ran off, but the male wouldn’t let go of the Husky.”
Ramirez hit the dog once with the booster, prompting it to let go of the Husky, but it didn’t run away. Instead it turned and bit Ramirez on the wrist.
“I was so mad I just yelled and hit it again and it ran off,” Ramirez said.
Ramirez still has the scars from the bite, but has regained full motion of her wrist. Ramos escaped the ordeal with only an injury to his finger. Hercules the Husky has made a full recovery as well.
Amirfar said Ramirez’s actions likely saved the boy from potentially life-threatening injuries.
“Unfortunately, a lot of people would have driven by or maybe called someone to see what they could do, but that is a split-second decision that you made and it was the right one,” said Turlock Mayor Gary Soiseth.
“I’m very proud of you,” Soiseth continued. “This is what Turlock is about and she is one of our finest.”
The male Pitbull has been removed from the city limits, according to Turlock Animal Services.