May 18, 2006
Tonight Albemarle County Police honored some of their own for exceptional performance in the line of duty. The award ceremony took place at the Doubletree Hotel in Albemarle County.
Corporal Jerry Utz remembers the morning of January 7th vividly. "What started out as a vehicle fire which, to me, meant [that] there was someone who pulled over, their car had caught on fire. I wasn't really prepared for what I saw when I got there, which was actually a vehicle over the embankment."
Officer Anthony Gluba continued the story. "We tried to get into the vehicle and initially couldn't, we had to break out the passenger side window with the baton."
It was an evening Corporal Utz and Officer Gluba won't soon forget. This past February they responded to a call for a person trapped inside of a burning vehicle.
"Corporal Utz was utilizing the fire extinguishers, trying to knock back some of the flames in the hopes that we could get [the flames] back enough so that the fire department could get there and help us. We tried to remove him out of the vehicle, but unfortunately were not able to," said Officer Gluba.
What they did do was risk their lives attempting to free a man from a burning car and in the process also warning other officers to steer clear of the dangerous scene.
Tonight, Albemarle County Chief John Miller recognized both men with the "Award for Valor." An award both men were humbled to receive.
"For what I feel is just doing my job, to be recognized like this is absolutely a great honor," said Officer Utz.
"We would much rather be trading--if we were going to get an award--trade it for a life-saving award, versus the way that it ended up," added Officer Gluba.