Officer honoured by peers for extraordinary bravery

NZPA | Wed October 10th, 2018

A police officer who demonstrated outstanding courage has been honoured with the Police Association’s Bravery Award at the 83rd New Zealand Police Association annual conference in Wellington.

Scott Quate and Chris CahillSenior Constable Scott Quate, nominated by his peers, was presented with his award by NZ’s former Govenor General, Sir Anand Satyanand.

Association President Chris Cahill said, “The officer not only displayed quick thinking, but extraordinary courage to put his life at risk to rescue others.”

On August 19, 2017, Senior Constable Scott Quate was off duty, driving with his partner and baby to Cambridge, when approaching the Fergusson Bridge, spanning the Waikato River, traffic had come to a standstill.

Below, a man was in the water screaming for help. Nearby, an unconscious woman was floating face-up. The pair had crashed through a barrier and into the fast-flowing river.

Without hesitation, Scott scrambled down a steep, 10-metre slope, then fully clothed, waded into the freezing current, quickly finding himself in deep water. Carried about 10 metres downstream towards the people in the water, he managed to grab a low-hanging branch and reach out to grab and pull the woman to him. The man was close behind.

Stranded in the torrent Scott worked to keep himself and the unconscious woman clear of the water while trying to calm the man, who was clinging to the woman fatigued and distressed. A tow rope was finally lowered to him. He secured it around the woman and all three were dragged to shallow water, where Scott immediately began CPR on the woman.

He succeeded in clearing water from her lungs and she was lifted up the bank to receive further emergency response care. Alive when taken to hospital, the woman sadly died two days later.

The Police investigation team noted that the rescued man, in his mid-60s would almost certainly have died in the freezing and turbulent waters if not for Scott’s actions.

Scott’s partner, Sandy, waited nearby with their toddler. Relief was great when he was safely back on land, exhausted and freezing cold, but unharmed except for a bruised and rope-burned arm.

Based in Napier, Scott works as a road policing officer. Eastern District Commander Superintendent Tania Kura said he had acted with great courage and presence of mind in very difficult circumstances.

No one on the scene knew that Scott was a police officer and no one else there was prepared to take the risk of entering the water.

“Such valour and determination, done without thought for his own safety, is why Scott is the recipient of this year’s Police Association Bravery Award”, Mr Cahill said.

“To be awarded the Association’s Bravery Award is the highest honour we can bestow on our members. I am tremendously proud to be associated with this officer who performed so outstandingly.”

Scott QuateScott Quate and Sir Anand SatyanandPhotos: Bravery Award recipient Senior Constable Scott Quate with Police Association President Chris Cahill, Hawke's Bay reps Paul Ormerod and Kevin Stewart, and with former Governor General Sir Anand Satyanand.

About the NZ Police Association Bravery Award

The New Zealand Police Association Bravery Awards were established by the Police Association to recognise and honour the most outstanding acts of bravery performed by members, on or off duty.  Whilst acts of bravery may be recognised by other Police and civilian awards, the Association’s Bravery Award is unique in that it represents recognition of a member’s outstanding bravery by his or her colleagues and peers.

The design of the award is based on the sternpost of a Maori waka, traditionally carved to provide guardianship on a journey.  In the Bravery Award, the cast bronze sternpost incorporates a Police chevron, and represents the strength, resolve and community guardianship of police.  The sternpost is topped by a flame of pounamu, representing the outstanding valour of the act of bravery, and the high value in which the recipient is held.

2018 is the eighth year in which Bravery Awards have been made.  

The recipient of the Bravery Award was selected by a panel comprising of former Governor General Sir Anand Satyanand, Dame Annette King, Police Association President Chris Cahill, Vice–President Craig Tickelpenny, Police Superintendent Sam Hoyle.

The first award was made in 2010 to Inspector Mike O’Leary, who, while off duty, placed his own safety at risk in rescuing two children from a burning van following a serious crash near Taupo.  In 2011, Constable Mike Wardle and former constable Marty Stiles were honoured for their courage in rescuing Senior Constable Bruce Lamb after he had been shot through the face in Christchurch.  

No awards were made in 2012 as the evaluation panel did not feel any nominated acts met the standard of extraordinary bravery required.  

In 2013, Senior Constable Bryan Farquharson and Constable Paul Bailey received an award for leaping without hesitation into dangerous surf at Napier to save the life of a 12 year old boy. In 2014, Senior Constable Deane O’Connor received an award for leaping from a bridge, at nightfall, into the dark waters of Tauranga harbour to rescue a crash survivor.  In 2015 Senior Constable Adrian Oldham was awarded for entering a burning home without any fire safety equipment to rescue a trapped 77-year-old woman; Constable Ben Turner, unarmed, rushed an offender armed with a sawn-off shotgun who was attempting to carjack an elderly woman in a crowded car park.  

The 2016 award was not made public due to the nature of the police operation involved.

Last year, two officers were honoured. Former senior constable Ross Andrew made a daring cliff descent to help with the rescue of an injured driver of a truck that had crashed down into the Manawatu Gorge river. In Northland, Constable Darren Critchley braved huge seas at Ninety Mile Beach to bring two swimmers to shore, one of whom died.

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