Sugar Grove patrolman saves life while on vacation

By on July 18, 2013

SUGAR GROVE—Sugar Grove Village Board trustees on July 16 were told of the heroic actions of Sugar Grove patrolman Brett Thoele, who saved the life of a drowning man in Branson, Mo.

Newly appointed Police Chief Patrick Rollins explained Thoele’s heroic actions to the Village Board.

Last June, while vacationing with his family at Moonshine Beach on Tablerock Lake in Missouri, Thoele and his father-in-law heard calls for help on the beach. Thoele spotted a young man 150 yards out, struggling to stay afloat.

“The beach was full, about 200 people stood by, but Brett, a good swimmer, decided to actually help,” Rollins said. “He and his father-in-law saw a third party swim out to help, but that third party was pushed under by the panicking swimmer.”

The third party “changed his mind” about helping the swimmer after being submerged, but did get a raft to help the rescue operation.

Thoele swam to the struggling swimmer and was submerged three times before giving the victim “a helpful elbow to the face,” a common practice for lifeguards to stun and subdue a panicking swimmer. Thoele brought the victim to shore with the help of the raft.

The victim regained his breath again on shore as other emergency staff arrived.

“Even though he was on vacation, he fulfilled the role of hero,” Rollins said. “That really says a lot about him as a man and a police officer. This is the positive image that people should associate with our police force.”

Thoele, who has served on the Sugar Grove Police Department since May 2006, was on hand at the meeting with his wife and three children, and received a Police Meritorious Award for his actions.