Local police officer awarded Medal of Valor by President Biden

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WASHINGTON, DC (WOUB) – A Southeast Ohio man was awarded the Medal of Valor by President Joe Biden for the 2021 rescue of a man who had fallen into a frozen lake. 

Officer Dalton Rushing, originally of Glouster, was honored at the White House on Monday alongside 14 other recipients. The Medal of Valor is the highest honor given in the United States to public safety officers and is awarded to those who have “exhibited exceptional courage, regardless of personal safety, in the attempt to save or protect others from harm.

Rushing was working as a deputy with the Perry County Sheriff’s Office when emergency crews responded to a call of a man trapped in Tecumseh Lake in Perry County in February 2021. 

According to the White House, the man had been in hypothermic conditions for 45 mins before he was rescued. 

While in the water, the victim was unable to grab hold of Rushing and reportedly said that he was going to give up, prompting Rushing to tie a rope to the individual and submerge himself in the freezing water alongside the victim until rescue could be secured. An act which was described by the White House as “demonstrating courageous action and uncommon poise to save lives.”

Looking back on the rescue, Rushing recalls few thoughts going through his mind at the time and only remembers focusing on the task at hand. 

“Trying to keep him alive and keep him from fading. Keep him talking – I didn’t think about anything else until after I got off the ice,” Rushing said.

Following the rescue, Rushing received the Medal of Valor from the Buckeye State Sheriff’s Association. He was then nominated by the organization for the national Medal of Valor. 

Although Rushing said that he’s not a “huge fan” of awards or public appearances, he said he is grateful for the honor and to the people who nominated him. 

“It was surreal, but at the same time I’m sure there are plenty more people out there who have done more and didn’t get recognized for it,” Rushing said.

Rushing now works as an officer with the New Lexington Police Department. 

Also honored at Monday’s ceremony was Assistant Chief Ryan Sprunger of the East Wayne, Ohio, Fire District, who rescued a grandfather and his grandchild from a frozen lake while he was off duty. Sprunger dove into the icy water with only a throw rope, rescued the two victims and then guided emergency workers to a second child for rescue.