Special to Washtenaw Now
Senator Rebekah Warren presents the Pittsfield Twp. Fire Department with a tribute from Gov. Rick Snyder at a recognition ceremony held on March 13 in Milan. The department was part of a concerted effort of many state agencies that assisted at a 50-car pile-up on Jan. 9.
MILAN -- A tribute by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder to area first responders, for their courageous work to clear a 50-car pile-up that claimed one life and seriously injured others, was presented by Senators Rebekah Warren, Dale Zorn; State Representatives Jason Sheppard, Adam Zemke and Milan Mayor Michael Armitage officiating was held on Friday, March 13.
It’s often said attitude plays a big part in success. On January 9 in the midst of utter chaos, first responders, Capt. Sean Jenkins and firefighter Shannon Jenkins of the Milan Area Fire Department were the first to arrive at the horrific pile-up on U.S. 23. Through the snow squall, Jenkins said he looked at the devastation and said, “Let’s get to work.”
[ See photos from the accident ]
That determined attitude prevailed throughout the day as emergency personnel from agencies across Washtenaw County worked to save lives and clear the scene. Trooper Donald Pasternack, lead investigator for the Michigan State Police, used his first aid skills and stopped the bleeding of a severely wounded victim ultimately saving his life.
Zemke said in his remarks, “It was commendable how much coordination took place that day.”
Each agency had a different role to play, but they worked together like a well-oiled machine. Making the rescue effort more difficult because of the weather conditions, University of Michigan Survival Flight was unable to get to the location to airlift patients. The Milan Fire Department also had to respond to another multiple vehicle accident further south on U.S. 23.
Zorn presenting the tribute award to the Milan Fire Department and thanked the responders and their families that support those that respond to our needs.
“I’m proud of them and really appreciate the many agencies that came together in a short time," he said.
Fire Chief Robert Stevens accepted the department’s award from Zorn and said of his men, the day to day training was vital to their work. These men make a difference and, “I’m proud to be a member of their team.”
A special tribute, accepted by Milan Police Chief Gerard Scherlinck for police dispatcher Penny Turner, for the positive way she handled the situation that day and her dedication. In turn, Warren recognized Washtenaw County Metro Dispatch. Milan Towing was presented with an award from Sheppard for their work in clearing the site. Zorn read the tribute to the Washtenaw County Road Commission. Road crews were immediately dispatched to the scene with salt trucks and plows to clear the road. Director of Operations, James Harmon accepted the award.
In total 10 organizations and agencies were recognized. They were, Milan Area Fire Department, Milan Police Department, Pittsfield Twp. Fire Department and Department of Public Safety Communications, Michigan State Police, Huron Valley Ambulance/Monroe Community Ambulance, Washtenaw County Metro Dispatch, Washtenaw County EOD, Washtenaw County Road Commission and Milan Towing.
Following the presentation, a reception featuring coffee, cake and appetizers purchased from local businesses was served compliments of former Milan Mayor Owen Diaz, Councilman Brett Moyer and Hardwire Corporation.
The tribute read:
Let it Be Known, that it is with deep gratitude that we present this tribute for their courageous work to clear the 50-car pile-up on U.S. 23 on January 9, 2015. This horrific accident resulted in the death of one and caused serious injury and damage to many others. We are extremely fortunate to have such passionate and dedicated first responders serving our community.
On January 9, 2015 the accident on U.S. 23 changed the lives of many local residents.
But without the help of the first responders the outcome of this frightening incident would not have been handled as efficiently. The 50 vehicle pile-up was due to the dangerously icy roads and white-out condition that resulted in the death of one person and extrication of two from their cars, as well as serious damage to many other vehicles. A special thank you goes to the first responders for their brave service during this difficult time. They have impacted the community in a tremendously positive way, and we thank them for their service.
In special tribute, therefore, this document is dedicated to honor all the personnel for the selfless commitment to those in need they demonstrated through their tireless efforts to clear US-23 after the fatal accident on January 9, 2015.
Joyce Ervin is a freelance writer for Washtenaw Now reporting on Milan. She can be contacted at:firstname.lastname@example.org