Officer recognized for Gray Creek rescue

Cranbrook police officer Corporal Phillip Sullivan was recently honoured for his rescue of a woman missing up the Gray Creek Pass.

Cranbrook police officer Corporal Phillip Sullivan was honoured for his rescue of a woman missing up the Gray Creek Pass.

Cpl. Sullivan received meritorious service honours at the 34th annual B.C. Police Honours Night on Nov. 20.

The awards are held for police officers who braved armed suspects, flames and icy waters to save others, and whose remarkable work enhanced safety in their communities at Government House.

Corporal Phillip Sullivan is a member of the Southeast District Police Dog Service in Cranbrook.

In May, 2010, Cranbrook RCMP received a report that a female had been travelling along over the Gray Creek Pass and had failed to show up at a predetermined time at home, explained Staff Sgt. Dave Dubnyk, Cranbrook RCMP.

“Cpl. Sullivan is very aware and familiar with all the backcountry area around here, so he had a pretty good idea of where she might be,” Dubnyk said. “He found her vehicle lodged in about three and a half feet of snow at the top of the Gray Creek Pass.”

Along with his police dog Rambo and a pair of snowshoes, Sullivan followed tracks leading away from the vehicle. The duo tracked the woman approximately 6.5 kilometres through snow more than a meter high.

“They managed to locate her,” she’d gotten a little turned around and was actually walking the wrong way, she’d become kind of disoriented,” he said. “And she was quite a ways from her vehicle and where she was intending to go.”

Dubnyk said there were also some fairly large bear tracks that Cpl. Sullivan had noted.

“He wasn’t certain if it was stalking him or if there was just a bear in the area,” he said. “Cpl. Sullivan took the lady and took her back to her vehicle, and using his own vehicle winched her out. “

Dubnyk said Sullivan is an extremely hard working officer who knows the area like the back of his hand and takes the calls he gets personally.

“He works day and night to get the job done,” Dubnyk said. “He gives all his credit to his dog, but it’s certainly a team effort.”

He noted that this is just one rescue that Sullivan received some recognition for, but there are countless others. Rambo, the service dog, also has a vast profile, from searching for dangerous armed suspects to searching for drugs to searching for avalanche victims.

Sullivan’s greatest satisfaction comes from finding lost people, especially children.

In all, 19 officers received the award of valour, the highest award for a police officer in B.C. These officers made a decision to place themselves at substantial risk to save others.

Sixty-eight police officers were awarded meritorious service honours. This recognizes exemplary performance that exceeds expectations and enhances the public image of police officers.

Each fall, the provincial government recognizes members of independent municipal police forces, the RCMP, and First Nations and transit police services who have acted in an exemplary manner.

About 9,000 members of these services deliver policing throughout B.C.

Award recipients are selected by a committee made up of representatives from the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police and the Ministry of Justice’s Police Services Division.