Life savers honored

Black Swamp Humanitarian
Awards Nov 13 2009. From left, Sandra Schroeder, Jenny Ashman, Greg Wilson, Rachel Borders, Kimberlie
and Frederick Graybell. (Photo: Aaron Carpenter/Sentinel-Tribune)

GRAND RAPIDS – Evan Harves, 7, is alive today because of the quick reaction of his neighbor, Joe Vnuck,
who was only 12. Cassie Kolanko, 18, is alive today because three men pulled her out when she was pinned
beneath her overturned car. Ron Primeau is alive today because six Boy Scouts followed their motto to
"be prepared" on a wilderness hike.
During Friday evening’s Black Swamp Humanitarian Awards banquet, Kolanko and Primeau were able to thank
their life-savers in person. In Kolanko’s case, only Wood County Sheriff Deputy Andrew Webb was present,
though Richard Brogan and James Comer were also honored. The three men lifted Kolanko’s car off of her
head and chest after she was ejected from her car and it flipped on top of her.
"I didn’t ever meet anyone who helped me that night," she said. "Thank you. Thanks to you
guys, I have my life still. Thank you."
Primeau is one of the adults who accompanied about 20 Pemberville Troop 344 Scouts on their High
Adventure hike in Yellowstone this past July. Each member of his smaller hiking group was honored with a
certificate for helping to save Primeau’s life when he became deathly sick. The six Scouts and five
adults worked together to assist him with his daily hike, and three of them later left camp to seek an
area for cell phone reception to alert rangers. By the time Primeau made it to a hospital after his
helicopter rescue, he was within hours of dying from organ failure.
Primeau thanked each of the Scouts who were honored at the banquet, Aaron Corns, Gabe Hickman, Matthew
Lutzmann, Daniel McBride, Dan Snyder and Andrew Venier, along with fathers Eric Corns and Dan Venier,
Eagle Scout Ben Meyer and Scoutmasters Terry McKibben and Matt Meyer. He offered special kudos to the
scoutmasters for making the decision to get him the help he needed when there were only 15 miles left to
go on the 60-65 mile hike.
Primeau also praised the Scouts. "A lot of kids in this age group don’t get the credit they deserve.
They are the best of the next generation. They deserve all the attention they’re getting tonight."

Black Swamp Humanitarian
Awards Nov 13 2009. From left, Blaine Dennis, Adam Skaff, Tyson Richmond, Tim Majoras. (Photo: Aaron

Thirteen-year-old Scout Joe Vnuck of Tontogany Post 347 received the only Life Risk award for his role in
diving into a deep pond at his home in 2008 to save a 6-year-old neighbor from drowning, Evan Harves.
Vnuck kept his head down, holding his plaque, while the audience gave him a standing ovation.
"I would just like to say thank you to anyone who helped get me this award," he said.
"It’s an honor. Thank you."
"A Scout is certainly brave and needs to be prepared. Joe certainly was that day," stated
Scoutmaster Joel Horen. He also credited Joe’s father, Dave Vnuck, "for preparing him for that
Dave Vnuck declared he was proud of his son and briefly mentioned what made the scene "kind of
cool" for him. He said the crowd at his house that day was "a bunch of retired police
officers. While we were still trying to process what was going on, Joe was two-thirds of the way to save
the kid. It goes to his Scout training."
Bradner volunteer firefighter Tom Wildman, ProMedica flight attendant Kara Priest of Van Wert and Toledo
firefighter/EMT Ernie Gehrke Jr. were honored for their aid in helping to save the lives of an older
couple from Michigan who were severely injured when their car collided head-on with a pick-up driven the
wrong way on Interstate 75.
"I am extra honored to be given this award," said Priest, adding she was even more humbled by
the other stories of rescue she was hearing. As a flight attendant for an air ambulance she said what
she does is second nature, so it was humbling hearing about other awardees who did their actions
"because they’re good people."

Black Swamp Humanitarian
Awards Nov 13 2009. James Goodenough, Tom Wildman, Kara Priest, Adriane Weisert. (Photo: Aaron

Kimberlie and Frederick Graybell of Toledo were honored as more than "good people" for stopping
on I-75 after they witnessed a traumatic single-car accident. They helped break the windows of the
vehicle which had flipped and slid along the highway on its roof. All passengers of the car were safely
Because of living out of state, Tim Majoras was unable to receive his award in person for reporting to
911 a violent breaking-and-entering in the Bowling Green neighborhood he was visiting. Because of his
action, the criminal was arrested by police before he even left the property.
"I accept this on behalf of my son," said his father, also Tim Majoras. "He did what he
thought others would do. On behalf of him, I thank you very much."
Blaine Dennis was honored for reporting to 911 an armed bank robbery that was occurring near the business
where he worked. Because of his action, police were on hand to chase the robber when he fled the scene
and capture him.

Black Swamp Humanitarian Awards Nov 13
2009. Joe Vnuck. (Photo: Aaron Carpenter/Sentinel-Tribune)
Black Swamp Humanitarian Awards Nov 13 2009. From
left, Terry McKibben, Daylen McBride, Aaron Corns, Gabe Eckwin, Andrew Vinder, Matt Lutzman, Matt Meyer,
Dan Snyder, Ben Meyer, Ron Primeau, Eric Corns, Dan Vinder. (Photo: Aaron