Awards go to Everett’s finest

EVERETT — Michael Braley was three car lengths behind Suzanne Eviston when a Jeep crashed into her patrol car nine months ago.

“I thought she was dead,” Braley said.

Braley and Eviston are Everett police officers. They were trying to catch a burglary suspect last July. Attempting to flee police, the suspect slammed into Eviston’s patrol car, seriously injuring her and her police dog partner, Axle.

Braley witnessed the wreck and rushed to Eviston’s car. He held her head still and helped comfort her while flames burst out of her engine and rescue crews tore open the mangled wreckage of her car to get her out.

On Wednesday, Braley was rewarded for his bravery with the medal of valor. Eviston was given a purple heart, an honor reserved for officers injured in the line of duty.

The awards were handed out at the Everett Police Department’s annual ceremony.

Fifteen officers and more than 30 volunteers and others were recognized for their hard work and bravery and for doing the right thing.

That’s what Evergreen Middle School student Garrett Dodge did when he jotted down a license plate number and shared it with police one morning last October, Capt. Mike Campbell said. Garrett’s tip helped officers recover a stolen vehicle. The middle school student was among those who received citizen commendations.

Sgt. John DeRousse and officer Kelly Carman arrested one of the men who created havoc across Everett last July. That’s when a harrowing carjacking and pursuit ended with gunfire at the Everett Mall and a Fred Meyer store. The two officers shared medals of valor.

And officer Eddie Golden, who formerly worked in New York City and has been on Everett’s force for four years, was given the Brian DiBucci Award for outstanding performance.

Capt. Bill Deckard said that while Seattle police currently may be trying to hire New York City’s finest, when Everett hired Golden, the department “got the best one.”

Eviston was awarded the purple heart for the multiple injuries she suffered. After the crash she spent months recovering from broken bones on her left side, including 10 broken ribs. Her pelvis was shattered, her spleen ruptured. Axle, her black German shepherd police dog, suffered a broken leg in two places.

“I really could have been another statistic,” she said Wednesday.

Now, the officer and police dog are just starting to be more active again. They are walking and running. The new muscle aches are welcome.

“I hurt, but it’s a good hurt,” said Eviston, who hopes to return to work with Axle this summer.

Braley, who also is police dog handler and trained under Eviston, said it’s good to see her up and about after seeing her smashed in her patrol car.

“The fact that she was able to fight through all the pain, that’s pretty spectacular,” he said.

Reporter Jackson Holtz: 425-339-3437 or jholtz@heraldnet.com.

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