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March 29, 2012
CONTACT: K.E. Schwab



SRU graduate earns Pittsburgh Police’s Medal of Valor

PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Mark Kneebone, a 1997 Slippery Rock University communication graduate, is one of 10 Pittsburgh police officers honored earlier this year with the department’s Medal of Valor for his efforts on behalf of those stranded in an August flash flood along Washington Boulevard.


The award, the department’s top honor, is given to officers who perform with exceptional courage and disregard for their own safety.


The officers formed a human chain to pull motorists who had left their cars from the rushing water. Some clung to trees or their vehicles as the flash flood turned parking lots and roadways into a deep, fast-moving river Aug. 19.


None of the officers were trained in water rescue, but still jumped into the current to pull more than a dozen motorists to safety, according to a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette news story. Four people died in the flood.


"The fear you saw in people's eyes. ... I just had to get in the water," said Officer Kneebone, who draws upon the experience while helping train city public safety employees in new water-rescue classes, the Post-Gazette reported.


Others similarly honored for the water rescue were: Sgt. Michael Hoffman and officers Gregory Livesey, Elvis Duratovic, Louis Schweitzer, Robert Smolinski, Steven Sywyj, Todd Waller, Timothy Werner and Caytlin Wood. Police Chief Nate Harper cited them for being “a fine example of very good team work.”


Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania’s premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.