Southold Town police officers Rory Flatley and Richard Jernick Jr. were honored Friday as the department’s Officers of the Year for saving an alleged drunk driver who nearly died after crashing his car into a utility pole last fall.
Southold Town Police Chief Martin Flatley, who is Rory Flatley’s father, described the honorees’ actions as honorable during the annual Southampton Kiwanis Police Awards Ceremony Friday.
“Due to the actions of these two very dedicated police officers, this 54-year-old male driver’s life was saved after a very horrific accident,” the chief said at the awards dinner. “Congratulations to both of you. You should be very proud.”
Both officers were patrolling through Mattituck and Laurel in separate cars Oct. 24 when they got a call around 7:45 p.m. of a single-car accident in Laurel. They arrived at the scene on Peconic Bay Boulevard to find a Jeep Cherokee demolished after having hit a utility pole. The driver was unconscious behind the wheel.
Mr. Flatley — who joined the force six years ago — tried to pry open the door with a tool while Mr. Jernick — a 26-year veteran who previously served with the MTA police, the NYPD, and in a South Carolina police department — called for emergency personnel. They managed to pull the man from the car, but he had no pulse.
Both officers immediately began CPR on the man and were able to bring him back to consciousness just as EMTs from the Mattituck Fire Department arrived. The victim was airlifted to Stony Brook Medical Center and eventually placed under arrest.
Mr. Jernick and Mr. Flatley also received proclamations from Southold Town at the event, which was held at the Vineyard Caterers in Aquebogue.
Other local honorees include:
• Riverhead Town police officers Dennis Cavanagh and Michael Lombardo for their roles in catching four people who allegedly fired seven rounds into a downtown Riverhead home last year.
• Shelter Island Police Officer Anthony Rando for helping to save a woman’s life.
• Trooper Charles Witczak was chosen from the state police ranks, while Sgt. John Whitehead Jr. was recognized for providing vocational training to inmates and organizing work projects like one at the Brendan House on Sound Avenue in Riverhead.
• Out of all the East End winners, the Kiwanis board named Dep. Sheriff Richard Tedesco as this year’s winner of the Howard Stock Memorial Award for helping to bring down several high profile marijuana grow houses across the area.