Officer Bryan Duncan was running late to a drunk-driving enforcement operation on March 17 when he witnessed a major traffic collision on the Foothill (210) Freeway that quickly escalated into an inferno.
Duncan jumped off his motorcycle, ran toward the collision — which involved a Dodge Challenger and a Nissan Sentra — and began calling for emergency crews.
After Duncan and a passerby pulled the driver from the fiery Nissan, he tried using a fire extinguisher to douse the flames. At about the same time, a witness' shirt caught fire and Duncan put that out as well.
Moments later, he and other passersby returned to the Sentra and saved a passenger, who suffered burns on her left arm and leg.
But Duncan's work wasn't done, as he went on to extinguish the fire in the Dodge, saved the driver, who suffered severe head trauma, and rescued the passenger, who had a severed arm.
"Its fate," Duncan said of his presence at crash. "It was divine intervention."
Duncan's actions that day earned him the Medal of Heroism at the 18th annual Glendale Police Awards Luncheon on Thursday, which was presented by the Glendale Police Foundation, the Kiwanis Club of Glendale and the Glendale Bar Assn.
"It's great to be recognized for the things we do, and we put our lives on the line every day," Duncan said.
He and two dozen other Glendale police officers, detectives and sergeants were honored at the Hilton Glendale for their skills and acts of bravery and professionalism.
Police officials also recognized six residents who showed courage and provided valuable tips and help in several crimes, including a carjacking, a naked man chasing school children, and several burglaries.
Additionally, a dozen officers from Glendale, the Pasadena Police Department, the U.S. Marshal's Service and U.S. Secret Service earned Distinguished Services awards for identifying two men charged in the death of a missing Glendale man whose body was discovered in January in a shallow grave in Big Tujunga Canyon.
Surveillance video reportedly showed the men — Donald Thurman, 26, and Erik Pearson, 21, — using Nicholas Carter's bank and credit cards after he had gone missing.
The Officer of the Year award was given to Officer Peter Robinson, who was described by peers as a quiet leader with a "sixth sense in working the streets" and "an overall great street cop."
Robinson started his career with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and later moving to the Glendale Police Department, where he has been on patrol duty for five years.
He has worked closely with community members to address complaints and traffic-related issues at Emerald Isle Park, resulting in a reduction of calls at night in the area. Robinson strictly enforced Residential Open Space laws in the Upper and Lower Scholl canyons.
For Robinson, the best part of working as a police officer is talking to different people and hearing their "interesting" stories.
"People say the truth is stranger than fiction — that's absolutely true," he said, adding that what he's seen has helped shape his life.
His duties will change soon, though, as he's been selected to mentor new officers as a field training officer. He's also become a member of the department's Special Weapons and Tactics team.
Robinson said the honor was "humbling," and said he tries to do the best he can.
18th Annual Glendale Police Awards Luncheon Winners
First Place Overall – Officer Matthew Wilson
Second Place Overall – Officer Vincent Jackson
Third Place Overall – Sgt. Toby Darby
No Second Chance Top Shooter:
Officer Matthew Wilson
Community Service Awards:
Oscar Emilio Anaya Hernandez
Officer Armando Montalvo
Officer Renae Kerner
Distinguished Service Awards:
Officer Juvan San Miguel
Officer Steven Koszis
Officer Bryan Duncan, Officer Ryan Gunn, Officer Art Obrusnik, Officer Ben Bateman Sr., Officer Matthew Bolton, Officer Marc Tarzia, Officer Vincent Jackson and Officer Mike Pobokhian
Officer Cameron Sanchez
Officer Justin Darby
Sgt. Jeff Newton
Det. Petros Kmbikyan
Det. Alex Krikorian
Det. Shawn Milligan
Det. Ralph Garcia
Det. Jonathan Owen
Det. Justin Darby
Det. Eric Meyer
Pasadena Police Department's Sgt. Vic Alaniz, Corporal David Llanes, Det. Tim Bundy
Inspector Toby Green, United States Marshal's Service
Special Agent Daryl Diamond, United States Secret Service
Medal of Heroism:
Officer Bryan Duncan
Volunteers of the Year:
Civilian Employee of the Year:
Community Service Officer Anna Marie Diaz
Officer of the Year:
Officer Pete Robinson
Chief's Award of Excellence:
Capt. Ray Edey, retired