Much like the parable of the good samaritan, two local men on their way to fish witnessed a horrendous event that prompted them to act. A vehicle crash left one woman and her infant child stuck in an overturned car — prompting the pair to act quickly and get help. In recognition of their heroic deeds, the Stark County Sheriff’s Office recognized the two good samaritans in an awards ceremony on Wednesday, Feb. 17.
It was a cool September morning, when Jack Schaff and Tom Tessier embarked on their journey to their favorite fishing spot. Between jokes and tall tales on a stretch of old Highway 10 between Belfield and South Heart the laughter stopped. Schaff and Tessier witnessed an oncoming red vehicle on the westbound lane swerve into the ditch and roll several times before coming to a stop. Overturned and with the motor still running, they approached the vehicle fearing the worst.
“They're heading to have a fun day out on the lake to go fishing and this happens right in front of them and they had the fortitude and wherewithal to say, ‘Hey we need to stop and see if everything is alright here,’” Stark County Sheriff Office Lt. Mehrer said. “These are exactly the types of situations and actions by citizens of North Dakota and Stark County that should be recognized.”
Schaff and Tessier quickly jumped into action. Inside the overturned vehicle they saw the female driver and her 5-month-old baby, fortunately with no serious injuries. Climbing into the vehicle they turned the motor off and assisted the young mother and child from the vehicle. The time between accident and assistance in the winter months of North Dakota can be the difference between life and death in many instances.
On February 17th, Sheriff Corey Lee presented the two local heroes with a Certificate of Appreciation and a Sheriff’s Office Challenge Coin.
“We can give [challenge coins] to fellow law enforcement, people in the community,...” Mehrer said of the special honor. “It gives the Sheriff and the agency the ability to give a small token of recognition for a variety of different things. To say thank you.”
The Stark County Sheriff Office facebook page announced the awards, garnering much praise for Schaff and Tessier from the community.
“You look at what they are doing, they were really selfless in their act. They didn't have to stop and offer assistance,” Meher said. “This day and age you see people who probably don't choose to do that ... It goes without saying that it takes a lot of courage to walk up to something where they really don't know what they will be facing when they get there...”