Medals honour daring rescue

Queensland Police official presentation of medals and wards, Maryborough. Holding her Assistant Commissioner’s Certificate (operational), Senior Constable Nicole Kunkel.
Queensland Police official presentation of medals and wards, Maryborough. Holding her Assistant Commissioner’s Certificate (operational), Senior Constable Nicole Kunkel. Valerie Horton

WHEN Senior Constable Nicole Kunkel and Constable Michael Rennie were called to an emergency in the middle of the night during January's floods, they knew it would be out of the ordinary.

But never did they imagine they would be commandeering a tiny dinghy to carry out a rescue on the raging Mary River.

“It was 12.30am and a male person aboard a vessel was having trouble – a large shipping container had floated down the river and caught on his mooring,” Snr Const Kunkel said.

“By the time we arrived he had abandoned his vessel in a small tender but it appears the outboard wasn't working. The last we saw he was partially submerged, hanging on to some trees.”

Snr Const Kunkel and Const Rennie came across a small dinghy. They jumped in and powered down the river in search of the terrified boatie.

“It didn't cross my mind that we were putting ourselves in danger. I could hear him screaming and just wanted to help,” Snr Const Kunkel said.

They feared the worst when they arrived at the spot where he was last seen but he was not there. Fortunately the boatie had made it out of the river alive.

“He ended up coming free of the trees. Unfortunately, we never got to talk to him.”

Yesterday, both officers were rewarded for their outstanding work with an Assistant Commissioner's Certificate at the Queensland Police Service Medals Awards in Maryborough.

Sergeant Bruce Hodgins and Detective Senior Constable Glen Dehnert were also awarded for their tireless work on the Lisa Keem murder case.

Both men spent countless hours investigating the murder of the Hervey Bay woman, organising the arrest of her killer Richard Giardina and preparing the evidence.

Giardina was sentenced to life behind bars in March.

“At the start we only had a missing person. But the more we looked the more we found,” Det Snr Const Glen Dehnert said.

Local police officers were also awarded yesterday for long service, including Sgt George Pope, SgtMark Collins and Snr Const Milton Leitch for 35 years.

Acting Superintendent Daryl Powell, Sgt Noel Sparks and Sgt Robert Baumann were awarded the National Medal 2nd Clasp.

Topics:  awards january floods mary river police queensland police service rescue

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