The National Law Enforcement Memorial and Museum (NLEMM) is pleased to announce that the February 2021 Officers of the Month are Jefferson County Deputies Christian Hughes and Nick Curtiss, and Troopers Sean Iles and Joseph Fay, all of New York state. The four officers made a valiant rescue of an unconscious man, and successfully evacuated occupants of a hotel during an early morning fire.
Shortly after midnight on January 11, 2021, Deputy Hughes responded to the report of a guest who may have been in distress at the Relax Inn Motel in Watertown, NY. As the first law enforcement officer on site, he attempted to make contact with the occupant, only to hear a muffled voice from within the room. Deputy Hughes was soon joined by Deputy Nick Curtiss, and Troopers Sean Iles and Joseph Fay. After securing keys from building management, the officers opened the door, only to be met by extreme heat and billowing black smoke. Without hesitation, regardless of having no protective equipment, Deputy Hughes and Troopers Iles and Fay entered the room and army-crawled under the thick, black smoke in an attempt to locate the source of the muffled cries. Meanwhile, Deputy Curtiss began evacuating rooms as the fire was rapidly spreading.
Against all odds, Deputy Hughes located an unresponsive man in the bathroom of the unit. Deputy Curtiss rejoined the group, and with strength and determination, the four officers pulled the man to safety. Unconscious and suffering severe burns and smoke inhalation, the victim was transported to Samaritan Medical Center and later airlifted to Upstate Medical Center for treatment of his critical injuries. Deputy Hughes, Trooper Iles and Trooper Fay were also treated and released for smoke inhalation.
“These four officers didn’t hesitate to put their own safety aside in saving this man’s life, and the lives of all the sleeping occupants of that motel,” said Marcia Ferranto, CEO of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, the governing organization of the National Law Enforcement Memorial and Museum. “Showing bravery during those harrowing moments made a lasting impact on the lives of all involved.”
The Officer of the Month Award Program, sponsored by the Police Unity Tour, began in 1996 and recognizes federal, state, and local officers who distinguish themselves through exemplary law enforcement service and devotion to duty.