The Maple Grove City Council recognized four heroic individuals for life-saving efforts during an incident involving a driver unconscious in a burning SUV Jan. 30.
Maple Grove Police Chief Dave Jess said citizen Chad Smith, Maple Grove Police Sergeant Adam Lindquist, Maple Grove Police Officer Jesse Mathwig and Hennepin County Deputy Matt Hagen were responsible for saving the driver’s life that morning.
Jess read a statement:
“On Jan. 30, 2014, at 5:19 a.m., officers were dispatched to a report made by Chad Smith that a Suburban was in the center median located on southbound Highway 169 just north of I-694. There was heavy snowfall, limited visibility, and heavy traffic at the time.”
Jess went on to say that Maple Grove Police Officer Jesse Mathwig, upon arriving in the area, observed the vehicle up against the center cable divider and also observed that the rear tires of the vehicle were on fire. He contacted dispatch requesting Maple Grove Fire to respond. At this time, Hennepin County Sheriff’s Dispatch advised that the State Patrol had been monitoring the traffic cameras and they reported that they did not see the driver exit the vehicle.
“As Officer Mathwig approached the scene, he observed that the fire had substantially grown in size and had engulfed the rear portion of the Suburban,” Jess said. “He heard the motor revving, observed the rear tires spinning at a high rate of speed, and believed that something may have been pressing on the accelerator. He now observed that the fire was quickly spreading towards the front of the vehicle. In checking inside the vehicle, he found an unresponsive lone male in the driver’s seat and also found the vehicle’s doors were locked. Alarmed by the intensity of the fire, Officer Mathwig attempted to extinguish the flames, which had minimal impact. Hennepin County Deputy Matt Hagen arrived shortly thereafter and attempted to suppress the fire as Officer Mathwig continued his attempts to gain entry into the vehicle. Deputy Hagen soon realized that he was not going to be able to extinguish the fire and it was spreading quickly, so he also tried to gain entrance into the vehicle.”
After four attempts, Officer Mathwig was able to break the window with his flashlight, and reached inside to unlock the door. At this time, the vehicle was fully engulfed with smoke and flames and he found that the driver was still unresponsive, and as he removed him from the vehicle, he observed severe burns to the driver and signs of smoke inhalation. After the driver was removed, the flames rapidly spread to the engine compartment.
“As Sgt. Adam Lindquist arrived on scene, he observed explosions in and around the vehicle as well as heavy traffic in close proximity to the scene,” Jess said. “Sgt. Lindquist took command of the scene and assisted Deputy Hagen and Officer Mathwig. To ensure the safety of the victim and the rescuers, he directed movement of the victim to a safe location to protect everyone from the imminent dangers. They instituted life-saving measures until the arrival of North Paramedics, who then cared for and transported the victim to the hospital. Officers also provided assistance to Maple Grove Fire who arrived a short time later.”
Deputy Hagen received a Letter of Recognition for his actions.
Sgt. Lindquist was presented with the Medal of Commendation. This medal given out for an outstanding police act which brings credit to the department and is highly recognized by other officers or citizens. “This act is characterized by obvious self-sacrifice while in the face of personal danger,” Chief Jess said. Lindquist then received a medal with a green ribbon.
Officer Mathwig received the Medal of Valor, which is given for an act of bravery which demonstrates obvious self-sacrifice in the face of death or serious physical injury. He then received a medal with a red ribbon.
Smith was not present at the meeting, but will receive a Certificate of Appreciation. The certificate is presented to a citizen that recognizes outstanding service to the department and community.
Mayor Mark Steffenson said, “On behalf of the city, I want thank you personally.”
Councilor Erik Johnson added the Maple Grove Police Department have been giving out awards for about 20 years. “This is the second Medal of Valor we’ve given out in 20 years,” he added. “Officer Mathwig you should be very, very proud of that.”
Councilors Leann Sargent and Phil Leith expressed their gratitude and thanks to the honorees as well.