Thursday, July 29, 2004

Officer Shayne Sesoko, here with his son, Davis, won HPD's Silver Medal of Valor for rescuing a boy in Waipahu.

HPD officer gets
medal for rescue

Pulling an autistic boy from a
flooded canal brings the department's
second-highest award

A 10-year-old autistic boy struggled to keep his head above the raging water in a rain-swollen Waipahu canal Dec. 8.


At a ceremony yesterday at police headquarters, the following awards were handed out:

>> Officers Jack Long and Tai Nguyen were each awarded the Bronze Medal of Valor for entering a burning Maple Garden Restaurant on Feb. 12 to ensure that it was emptied.

>> Sgt. Don Fujishima and officer Jeffrey Park got Certificates of Merit for preventing a woman from jumping from a Moanalua Freeway overpass Feb. 20.

>> Larry Peterson received the department's Certificate of Merit for helped to catch a burglary suspect on Feb. 26.

>> Officer Thomas Taflinger was named Officer of the First Quarter for outstanding on-duty performance and community service.

Police officer Shayne Sesoko threw the boy a mattress, hoping he could stay afloat in the 8-foot-deep waters until fire rescuers arrived, but the mattress sank and the boy "went under a few times, longer and longer," Sesoko said.

The officer jumped in and swam to the 10-year-old. The child, panicked and cold, did not understand what was going on and struggled with Sesoko. But the two finally got to the canal's wall, where officer Timothy Tenney was waiting.

Sesoko went underwater, pushed himself off the canal's floor and pushed the boy into Tenney's outstretched arms. Tenney then helped Sesoko out of the water.

In a ceremony yesterday, the Honolulu Police Department made Sesoko the 26th Silver Medal of Valor recipient in the department's history. The award, trumped only by the Gold Medal of Valor, is the second-highest honor for a Honolulu police officer.

Tenney, who helped in the rescue, was given a letter of commendation.

"They train you to serve and protect," Sesoko said yesterday after getting a congratulatory hug from his 5-year-old son. "We were just doing our jobs. We didn't expect all of this."

Sesoko's family came out for yesterday's ceremony at police headquarters and said they were still in shock over the officer's actions.

"He's a hero," said Sesoko's ninth-grade nephew, Chayse Montalbo. "I thought it (the rescue) natural for him."

Sesoko's mother, June, said the first she heard about the incident was two days after it had happened when he complained about his wallet being all wet.

"I asked him, 'When you jumped in, did you have a plan?'" When he replied that he hadn't, she said, "Well, that's typical."

"He was always gutsy as a child," she said. "He doesn't think anything of it."

Tenney said he had no doubt that Sesoko would save the boy and make it out of the canal.

"If it was my son in that drainage canal," Tenney added, "I would hope somebody would do the same thing."

Other awardees of the Silver Medal of Valor include motorcycle officer Stan Cook, who sustained eight gunshot wounds in 1994 after a man pulled over for routine traffic violation got out an AK-47 semiautomatic rifle and started shooting; and Sister Roberta Derby, the first female police chaplain in the United States.

The department also presented six other officers with awards yesterday for valor and good service while on duty.

"The awards that were presented are not given lightly," acting Police Chief Glen Kajiyama told the officers. "You should be proud, because each of you deserves to be proud."

Honolulu Police Department


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