LYNDEBOROUGH — A part-time police officer who rescued a woman whose truck overturned into a swamp and was filling with water was commended for his bravery by the town on Wednesday.
On Aug. 29, Officer Ralph McClellan was heading west on Route 101 on his way to work as a part-time officer. McClellan saw the truck in front of him leave the road, sheer a telephone pole in half and flip, landing upside down in a swamp near Walnut Hill Road.
McClellan stopped and ran to the scene. He was followed by Edward Durivarge, a civilian who stopped to help.
“He started to run in, but I said ‘no way,’” McClellan said Wednesday night. “There were lines down in the area, and I didn’t want him to be put in harm’s way.”McClellan, 31, waded into the murky water to reach the red pickup truck, which was resting on its roof and quickly filling up with water. Behind him came Durivarge and an off-duty firefighter from Derry, James Moran.“I was really relieved when he showed up,” said McClellan. “He was asking all the right questions and really put his training to work.”
McClellan broke open the window, cut the victim’s seat belt and pulled her from the truck. The woman, identified as Debbra Hebert, 44, of 14 Merrimack St., Milford, suffered no injuries.“Officer McClellan saved the life of Debbra Hebert,” said Lt. Rance Deware, officer-in-charge of the Lyndeborough Police Department.
A brief ceremony was held for McClellan at the Lyndeborough Town Hall, attended by the Board of Selectmen, Amherst Police Chief Mark Reams and Dunbarton Police Chief Dan Sklut. McClellan works full time in Dunbarton as a patrolman. He was awarded a certificate and medals by Deware.
“I’m pretty proud of him,” said Sklut. “It was a remarkable thing he did, and he’s pretty humble about it.”
Deware said McClellan’s heroism is part of the job of being a police officer and is reinforced by the training officers receive.
“You don’t think, you just act,” said Deware. “You try to take the best appropriate action given the circumstances without having a lot of time to think.”
Hebert was charged with her second offense of driving under the influence.
Reams said that if convicted of the misdemeanor, she will face mandatory jail time and an extended loss of her license.