ROPD sergeant to be honored for life-saving efforts

By: Victoria Mitchell | Royal Oak Review | Published September 12, 2017

 Royal Oak Police Sgt. Karly Wingart will soon be recognized for her bravery and dedication during an upcoming award ceremony.

Royal Oak Police Sgt. Karly Wingart will soon be recognized for her bravery and dedication during an upcoming award ceremony.

Photo provided by the Royal Oak Police Department

ROYAL OAK — Police Sgt. Karly Wingart will soon be recognized for her bravery and dedication during the Law Enforcement Education Program Outstanding Service Awards Sept. 22.

Wingart pulled a 36-year-old Royal Oak resident from the Ford Fusion in which the resident was a passenger shortly after midnight on Sunday, Jan. 15. The car had hit a stopped Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation bus, and the engine compartment burst into flames, police said.

“I am very proud but not surprised with Sgt. Wingart’s quick thinking and bravery,” Police Chief Corrigan O’Donohue said in a statement. “With complete disregard for her own personal safety, she entered a burning vehicle to assist an injured passenger.”

Police said that Wingart was the first officer on the scene of the crash on Woodward Avenue just north of 12 Mile Road.

Royal Oak Police Department Criminal Investigations Division Lt. Keith Spencer said that the Royal Oak passenger was severely injured and was trapped in the vehicle.

“Wingart was able to free the woman by entering the vehicle through the driver’s side,” Spencer said following the crash.

Wingart said she was mostly worried about the woman being burned. She said the woman was initially pinned under the dashboard where the impact occurred.

“I (could) see the flames growing on the other side of the windshield,” Wingart said as she recalled the incident with the awards board. “The SMART bus driver had a little fire extinguisher. He did attempt to put it out, and it didn’t work.”

With the help of a retired EMT standing nearby, Wingart was able to carry the passenger away from the burning car.

“A Berkley public safety officer — who arrived while I was trying to get her out — got his fire extinguisher. As I’m pulling her down the road, I can see the car is reigniting,” Wingart said.

The Royal Oak Fire Department arrived and finished putting out the blaze.

The driver, passenger and one bus rider with minor injuries were taken to Beaumont Hospital.

According to a press release issued by the awards committee, while the driver and bus rider were treated and released, the woman underwent reconstructive surgery and remained hospitalized until mid-February.

According to the release, the Fusion driver was later charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated causing serious injury.

Wingart was nominated for the honor by her peers. She also received a unit citation in 2015 for her work on two homicide cases while she was in the detective bureau.

The award program will be held during the Police Officers Labor Council/General Employees Labor Council Conference at Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City.

A Kalkaska public safety sergeant will also be honored during the ceremony.

“For them it’s just day to day. They just do their job the best they can,” Police Officers Labor Council Labor Representative John Stidham said in a statement. “It’s not about the recognition.”