An Oxford police officer recently proved that Protect and Serve is more than a motto — it’s a way of life.
Oxford Police Lt. Lara Fening was presented with the city’s Meritorious Service Award for saving the life of a crash victim in a blinding rain storm outside of the city earlier this year.
The presentation was made during Tuesday’s City Council meeting as Fening was presented with a written award signed by Mayor Kate Rousmaniere and Safety Director Doug Elliott. The presentation was made by Police Chief John Jones, who also gave Fening a medallion for display and a service bar for her departmental uniform.
Jones said members of he department are reluctant to be in the spotlight and be recognized for their heroic actions, including Fening.
It was not until just recently when he received an e-mail from the fire chief of Brookville, Ohio, that Jones said he learned of the details of her saving a life following a crash on Interstate 70 while she was on the way back to Oxford following training in Columbus.
The service award certificate noted a tractor-trailer which had stopped under an overpass due to the pouring rain had been rear-ended by an SUV, trapping the driver of the SUV.
According to the Brookville fire chief, his department had responded to the call and learned Fening had stopped at the scene in front of the truck, found the truck driver was safe and checked on the driver of the SUV.
“She called 911 to report the accident and as she was assessing the injured driver, noticed the SUV was smoking. Lt. Fening then ran back to her vehicle and retrieved the fire extinguisher from the trunk, ran back to the SUV and extinguished the fire,” the serviced award certificate reads. “She remained with the driver of the SUV until help arrived and then assisted the fire department personnel until she was no longer needed.”
Jones said she told them about it when she returned to Oxford and he told Council Tuesday he had not heard anything until recently from the fire chief at Brookville with more details about the June 1 incident.
“We thought it was a fatality,” Jones said. “The chief said he felt she contributed to saving a life.”
The certificate says that chief thinks her initial actions bought the victim time.
“Had the fire gone unchecked, the fire chief is confident they would have arrived to find a well-involved vehicle fire and fatality. The driver of the SUV sustained significant injuries but is expected to survive. It is evident that the actions of Lt. Fening contributed to saving the life of the driver of the SUV,” the commendation certificate reads.
Fening stood next to Jones as he read the commendation and accepted the award and then returned to a seat in the Council chambers without a comment.
Later, she offered only a brief comment about the incident.
“I am so happy that our brief conversation at that crash scene was not his last. I was very concerned for his life and am thrilled to hear he survived and recovered,” she said.