Two Middletown police officers won’t forget their first shift together.
Police officer Sheoki Reece, a 10-year veteran and certified Field Training Officer, was riding with rookie officer Austin Mooney on Sunday night when they were heard over the scanner about a fire in the 300 block of Harlan Street with two people possibly trapped.
Since they were patrolling a few blocks away, Reece and Mooney were first on the scene. Heavy smoke was rolling out of the front door, they said.
“You don’t even think,” Reece, 42, said when asked about her first reaction. “You just run in and then you realize, ‘This is real.’”
Reece said she nearly tripped over a 69-year-old woman who was lying on the living room. She appeared to be crawling away from a couch that was on fire, the officers said.
The woman, wearing a robe, was on fire and Reece patted out the flames, then dragged the woman out of the front door and onto the porch, she said.
Mooney, 26, in his fourth month as an officer. He went inside the residence and convinced the woman’s husband, who was looking for his cell phone and keys, that he needed to leave the house immediately. Mooney then helped carry the woman safely down the street where a neighbor provided blankets and a pillow.
The officers wanted to get the couple down the street because there were oxygen tanks inside the residence, they said.
Seconds later, with the two officers, the couple and their dog safely outside, flames engulfed the house, shattering the windows.
The fire “grew quickly,” Mooney said.
Seconds were the difference between the woman suffering moderate injuries or two fatalities, Reece said.
“Can’t ask for better people,” said Middletown Police Chief Rodney Muterspaw.
Reece was asked if she and her partner ever considered waiting for the Middletown firefighters to arrive.
“There was no time,” she said. “When you’re first on the scene, you have to do what you have to do.”
The woman was transported to Atrium Medical Center with moderate injuries, according to a Middletown fire report. Her husband, who wasn’t injured, was driven to the hospital by police. The cause of the fire is listed as smoking on a couch and it caused $40,000 in damages to the property, including $10,000 to the contents, according to the report.
Mooney graduated from the Police Academy in August, then was hired by the Middletown Division of Police in November. He will be assigned to ride with a Field Training Officer for four to six months, then be given an examination by the officers. If he passes, as Reece predicted, he will ride by himself, then begin his one-year probation.
As Reece and Mooney discussed their first-day adventure, she told him with a smile: “I expect this tomorrow.”
This was at least the second time Reece has been credited with potentially saving someone’s life. On June 11, 2017, Reece, while off-duty, performed CPR on an 8-year-old boy who was under the water and couldn’t make it to the edge of the pool. She instructed others to call 911 and continued to give CPR until the boy was revived.
There were other kids in the pool, and they thought he was playing around. His brother saw that he was limp and got him out of the pool. The boy wasn’t breathing, and was blue in the face.
For her efforts, she was Employee of the Year by the City of Middletown.