Two Soldotna police officers recognized for live-saving efforts

Photo courtesy Shellie Saner, Soldotna city clerk Soldotna Police Chief Peter Mlynarik presents medals to Officers Derek Urban and Stephen Clary for saving a man's life at the Aug. 13 Soldotna City Council meeting. Mlynarik thanked the officers for their actions in rescuing the man from the Kenai River on June 24.

Two Soldotna police officers were recognized on Aug. 13 for saving the life of a man who jumped into the Kenai River in June.

Officers Derek Urban and Stephen Clary were presented with service medals from Soldotna Police Chief Peter Mlynarik who described their heroic actions at the Aug. 13 Soldotna City Council meeting.

On June 24 at 11:50 p.m., Urban and Clary responded to Soldotna Creek Park after someone reportedly found an apparent suicide note along with a man’s identification card on the park boardwalk. After a search of the area, a man matching the description of the ID was located at the stairs going down to the river.

Mlynarik said from the officer’s report, the man looked upset and yelled something to the officers then ran downstairs and jumped into the Kenai River. Urban ran over to where the man jumped in and called for him to come back. The man said he “wouldn’t want to go back into a cage and would rather die.”

Urban removed his gear and went into the Kenai River and continued to talk with the man while Clary walked downstream to attempt to cut him off. Mlynarik said as Urban was able to walk near the man standing in the middle of the river, a swift current caused the man to slip and pull him under the water. Urban grabbed the man and pulled him back to the bank where Clary helped pull him out and bring him to Central Emergency Service paramedics.

“Without the quick action of these officers the outcome would have surely been different possibly even deadly for the distraught man,” Mlynarik said. “Both officers put themselves in a position hazardous to their safety to rescue this man. Their actions go above and beyond what is normally expected of a police officer.”

Urban has been with the Soldotna Police Department since 2008. According to his biography on the City of Soldotna website, he began his career in law enforcement with the Military Police as a K-9 handler for the United States Marine Corps in 1987 and also worked for the Uintah County Sherrif’s Office in Vernal, Utah.

Clary joined SPD in 2011 after serving as a police officer in Kellogg, Idaho for six years.

The name of the man saved from the river was not released.


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