City honors four as heroes


John Lynch is a quiet and unassuming kind of guy.

He's so shy that he didn't want to show up to receive his Distinguished Civilian Award from Baltimore City Fire Chief Herman Williams Jr. at Fire Department headquarters.

The award is given to those individuals who "at personal risk affect a rescue from a burning building or perform some other outstanding act of heroism," said Battalion Chief Hector L. Torres, the public information officer for the city Fire Department.

"I think what I did was part of a day's work," said Mr. Lynch.

"He didn't want to come," said Lynn Windle, the property supervisor for the Middle Branch Manor Apartments at 2303 Round Road in Cherry Hill. "I had to drag him here."

Mr. Lynch, 34, has been the maintenance supervisor at Middle Branch since April. On the morning of Oct. 15, he was at work when a fire broke out. Mr. Lynch organized his staff to go door-to-door and get residents out of the apartment complex before flames engulfed the building, Ms. Windle said. He also turned off the gas and electricity, an act Ms. Windle thinks may have prevented an explosion.

Later, Mr. Lynch rushed a ladder to two Southern District police officers -- Lester R. Rutherford and Mary Phillips -- which they used to carry 8-month-old Janae Turner from the fire in a third-floor apartment.

Officer Rutherford and Officer Phillips also were on hand yesterday to receive Distinguished Civilian Awards. A third Southern District officer, John M. Walker Jr., -- who, along with Officer Rutherford, caught 1-year-old Terry Braxton Jr. after his father threw him from a third-floor window -- could not be present to receive his award. Capt. Howard Parrott, the deputy commander for the Southern District, accepted on behalf of Officer Walker.

"It was an outstanding piece of work," said Captain Parrott, referring to the rescue efforts of his three officers and Mr. Lynch. "It makes me feel good."

Such heroics were nothing new to Officers Rutherford and Phillips, who said they received a commendation in March for pulling a woman out of a fire in Westport. Both received their awards with modesty nearly matching that of Mr. Lynch.

"I think it's a nice gesture that other agencies recognize that we do work together," said Officer Rutherford, referring to the joint efforts of the Fire Department and the Police Department in rescuing people from the blaze at Middle Branch.

Officer Rutherford, 32, is a 7 1/2 -year police veteran who has spent the last four years at the Southern District.

Officer Phillips, 31, also a 7 1/2 -year veteran, has been at Southern for four years.

"What we did was in the normal course of duty," she said. "We just happened to get there first. We wanted to get everybody out with a minimal amount of injury."

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