Ceremony honors citizens for lifesaving efforts and ‘Saved By the Belt’ awards

Sheriff Keith Nygren held an awards ceremony on Sept. 23, to honor recipients who were recognized for their lifesaving efforts and the Illinois Department of Transportation “Saved by the Belt” awards.

Nygren presented three Citizen Lifesaving Awards, a plaque and medal, for lifesaving efforts put forth in two separate traffic crashes.

Daniel C. Narciso and James M. Halterman were recognized for their lifesaving efforts on July 25 in Marengo. David J. Kieffer was rear ended by a Peterbilt Semi Tractor trailer on Route 20 at Coral Road.

After being struck, Keiffer’s Chevrolet S-10 pickup caught on fire. Daniel and Halterman stopped to render aid to Kieffer. Halterman cut Kieffer’s seatbelt, and then Narciso and Halterman pulled Keiffer out of the burning truck. Without the assistance of these two gentlemen, it is believed that Keiffer would not be here today.

Halterman was also presented with the knife that he used to cut Kieffer’s seatbelt. The knife was found by the Marengo Fire District after they extinguished the fire. Keiffer contacted Gerber, the manufacturer of the knife, and they placed the knife used into a shadow box. Halterman was also given a new knife from Gerber.

John C. Kurtz was recognized for his lifesaving actions from a traffic crash that occurred on June 20 at Queen Anne Road and Williams Court. The juvenile’s Pontiac Grand Prix had struck a tree and caught fire. Kurtz tried to obtain a fire extinguisher, but no one had one. He ran without hesitation to the burning vehicle and assisted the juvenile driver out. Kurtz then gave the driver water and assisted him until rescue personnel arrived. Without Kurtz’s assistance, it is believed that the driver would not be alive today.

During the ceremony, the Illinois Department of Transportation “Saved By the Belt” awards were also presented. This award is given to occupants involved in a serious traffic crash in McHenry County where their injuries were lessened by the use of their safety belt. Recipients receive a certificate and coin from the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Anna E. Wohlfeil and Kevin McCauslin were recognized for wearing their seatbelt when their vehicle slid and struck a tree on March 5. Wohfeil was driving westbound on Route 173, west of Altenberg Road when her vehicle slid on the snow.

On July 18, Michael Chmiel and his four family members were traveling eastbound in the 21000 block of Kishwaukee Valley Road when a westbound vehicle came into their lane of traffic. A head-on collision occurred in the eastbound lane. All occupants of the Chmiel vehicle were wearing their seatbelts.

Nygren has presented one other Citizen Lifesaving Award in 2011. The Citizen’s Lifesaving Award is one of the highest honors a citizen can receive from the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office.