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Sturgis Police officers awarded the Carnegie Medal

STURGIS, SD – Sturgis Police Officers Dylan M. Goetsch and Christopher W. Schmoker are among 18 individuals who have been awarded the Carnegie Medal – the highest honor for civilian heroism in the U.S. and Canada – for risking their lives while trying to save others from drowning, burning vehicles, or burning homes.

After arriving at the scene of a house fire in Sturgis, S.D., on May 12, 2018, and learning that 47-year-old Jason R. McKee was still inside, police Officer Dylan M. Goetsch, 27, and Sgt. Christopher W. Schmoker, 37, entered the home.

Filled with dense smoke and visible flames in the kitchen, Goetsch and Schmoker moved to the home’s upper level where Goetsch went to his hands and knees, crawled to a bedroom, and searched it for McKee, who was not there. Goetsch retraced his steps and returned to the home’s front door before returning upstairs to search another bedroom.

Dense smoke made it impossible for Goetsch to see more than a few feet in front of him. He exited the house and from the exterior, he climbed a ladder that was below McKee’s bedroom window. At the window opening, he heard McKee breathing.

After confirming his location, Goetsch returned to the front door where he and Schmoker re-entered the house – this time with wet T-shirts over their mouths and noses. They ran to McKee’s bedroom and, with difficulty, dragged him from the house as flames spread to the ceiling above them.

McKee was hospitalized for smoke inhalation and inhalation burns to his lungs. Goetsch and Schmoker sustained minor smoke inhalation; they recovered.

According to Sturgis Police Chief Geody VanDewater, the brave actions of the officers saved McKee’s life.  

A total of 10,135 Carnegie Medals have been awarded since the Pittsburgh-based Fund’s inception in 1904. Commission Chair Mark Laskow said each of the awardees or their survivors will also receive a financial grant.

A special ceremony honoring Goetsch and Schmoker is being planned.

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