By Mary O’KEEFE
Glendale police Reserve Officer Ari Simonyan was presented with his second Medal of Valor award at a ceremony at the Glendale police station.
In 2008 the Glendale Police Department honored Simonyan with the Medal of Valor, one of the highest awards that can be bestowed on a Glendale officer. On Feb. 3 he was again recognized with the Medal of Valor from the Police Officer Association of Los Angeles (POALAC). Because Simonyan was out of town for the ceremony, members of the Glendale Police Department accepted the award on his behalf.
“Ari is an example of the best and the bravest we have,” said Chief De Pompa in a prepared statement. “Our regular sworn ranks are complimented by our Reserve Forces Unit that volunteers their time. The community should be proud of these officers who disregard their personal safety to save others.”
On Dec. 22, 2007 Simonyan was driving on the Ronald Regan (118) freeway at White Oak when traffic slowed due to an accident. A vehicle had overturned and caught fire. Good Samaritans were assisting the occupants, and Simonyan stopped to help as well.
He rushed to the driver’s side where two people were trying to break the window to get the occupants out. They were unsuccessful, so Simonyan and another passerby attempted to enter through the rear passenger door, but the flames and smoke pushed them back.
California Highway Patrol arrived and attempted to extinguish the flames but discovered the officer’s equipment did not work. Another extinguisher was found but only slowed the flames that were engulfing the car.
Simonyan went back to the driver’s side window and with the help of two others was able to break the window. During the rescue they heard the driver’s screams for help and saw that he was on fire. They pulled him from the car and to safety. The driver sustained severe burns. He was transported and listed as critical but stable condition.
“Not only did he save the driver but he risked his own life,” said Sgt. Tom Lorenz.
The driver was charged with driving under the influence.