Public safety personnel honored

Becky Vargo • Jul 21, 2015 at 12:27 PM

Administrative assistant Shawne Nieusma was given the Life Saving Award for her actions in rescuing a small child in Lake Michigan last year, Public Safety Director Jeff Hawke said.

The department's Police Heart Award went to Officer Joe Schulte, who was assaulted and seriously injured when he responded to a noise complaint this past fall.

Hawke said Nieusma and Schulte are both credits to the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety and the community they serve.

Shawne Nieusma

Nieusma was driving on Harbor Drive on May 19, 2012, when she spotted a small child run across the road. The boy was unattended and only wearing pajamas.

The 3-year-old ran across the beach and into Lake Michigan.

Nieusma parked her car, ran after the boy and called to him. Hawke said it was evident that the boy was unable to communicate as he continued to go deeper into the water, Hawke said.

“Shawne entered the water and retrieved the boy as he reached (his) shoulder depth,” the director said.

The child, who was reunited with his frantic parents, had left the family home undetected.

“Absent the quick and deliberate actions of ... Nieusma, it is certain that the boy would have perished in the waters of Lake Michigan,” Hawke said. “Shawne’s attentiveness to her surroundings and immediate response prevented a tragedy and saved a life."

Joe Schulte

Responding to a noise complaint at a Grand Haven apartment house early on Sept. 20, 2012, Schulte was ambushed by a man who was under the influence of LSD and wielding a wine bottle, Hawke said.

The officer was struck several times on the face and head, and suffered broken facial bones and a concussion during the attack. The 18-year-old attacker also tried to grab a kitchen knife and stab the officer, Hawke said.

“Officer Schulte demonstrated remarkable restraint in not using deadly force despite his serious injuries and on-going assault,” Hawke said.

Schulte prevailed in the struggle, subduing the suspect by using his Taser gun, and eventually was able to handcuff the attacker.

“During the entire incident, Officer Schulte demonstrated courage, professionalism, skill and a ‘never give up’ attitude,” Hawke said.

Alexander Snively was sentenced earlier this year to at least 19 months and up to 15 years in prison for the assault on Schulte.

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