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Three recognized in Jackson County for act of heroism

Life-saving awards were presented during Tuesday's Jackson County Board of Commissioners to Justin Warmka of Warmka Towing, Minnesota State Trooper Thomas Saunders and Deputy Caleb Cihak. Their actions of Dec. 27 saved the life of an occupant involved in a rollover crash in Jackson County.

Saunders and Warmka were in the process of towing a pickup out of the median that spun out on an ice patch on Interstate 90 -- about two miles west of Jackson -- during the afternoon of Dec. 27. As they were tending to this pickup, another vehicle that was travelling westbound spun out on an ice patch, entered the north ditch and rolled onto its roof. This vehicle came to rest straight across the roadway from where Saunders and Warmka were standing.

Saunders and Warmka ran across the westbound lanes to check on the conditions of the occupants inside this overturned vehicle. They found five occupants and a puppy inside. Three of the occupants had minor injuries, while the other two clearly had injuries requiring the need for first aid and ambulances to respond.

After closer examination, they realized one of these passengers -- who was upside down in the vehicle -- had no pulse, was not breathing and was turning blue. Saunders and Warmka were able to extract the male from the overturned vehicle and immediately began performing CPR in knee-deep snow and a bitter wind-chill. Saunders also radioed for additional assistance, and that they had started CPR.

Cihak arrived on scene within one minute of their call for help and administered his AED, which was recently received through the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust and the University of Minnesota Medical School, to this passenger while continuing with life-saving measures. Life-saving care continued until a pulse was detected and the passenger slowly became responsive.

The passenger ultimately regained consciousness and began speaking with rescuers when the first ambulance arrived. The passenger was then transported to an area hospital where he was medically cleared and released.

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