Members of the city’s Board of Works on Monday recognized two city police officers for their efforts in saving a boy from choking earlier this month.
Officer John Hillenbrand, the school resource officer at Lincoln High School, said on Feb. 8, officers with the Vincennes Police Department gathered at the high school for a regular meeting, using the more open space of Ader Auditorium as a way to better social distance.
Capt. Josh Burke and officer Michael Caswell happened to be outside when they were approached by a boy, later identified as Ryder Duke.
Ryder was frantic, Hildenbrand said, as his older brother, Colton, was in the backseat of a nearby vehicle with the seatbelt wrapped around his neck.
Caswell and Burke worked together in an effort to release the seatbelt but to no avail. They then worked at unwrapping the seatbelt from his neck but decided it would cause further distress.
The more they worked and the harder Colton fought against it, the tighter the seatbelt got until, eventually, Colton began to choke.
Burke then decided to cut the seatbelt to free Colton, who was found to have marks on his neck and bleeding in his eyes.
“But because of Capt. Burke and Officer Caswell’s quick thinking and responses, Colton Duke only suffered very minor injuries that could have easily ended in a much different outcome,” Hillenbrand told the board.
Mayor Joe Yochum thanked each officer and recognized them with a police merit award.
In other business, city engineer John Sprague told members of the board that crews with CSX Railroad will be moving into town next month for what he described as a “disruptive project.”
Crews, he said, plan to replace every railroad tie along a major portion of the east-west line, which starts near Vincennes University on First Street and crosses several major thoroughfares, including College Avenue, Sixth Street and St. Clair Avenue.
Detours will be in place, Sprague said, and the work will be done so as to keep traffic moving efficiently.
“It will be as minimally disruptive as possible,” he said, adding that he expects crews to begin by the end of March.
The board also on Monday signed a near $150,000 contract with local engineering firm RQAW for right of way service associated with Main Street Phase II.
The city’s Redevelopment Commission is improving Main Street from 22nd Street out to Richard Bauer Drive as part of a multi-million dollar, three-phase effort; Phase II picks up at Jamestown Apartments and includes a redesign of its intersection with Felt King Road.
This contract with RQAW, Sprague explained, will include the appraising of the property in that area as well as purchasing.
City officials received a federal grant to help pay for 80% of the estimated $4 million cost of Phase II, and that money is expected to be released this summer.
Sprague hopes to also pursue Main Street Phase III, which would take the project out to Clark Middle School at Richard Bauer Drive, at about the same time, or 2022.