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State park police officers awarded highest civilian honors of the state

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OGDENSBURG — Two heroes on Tuesday were awarded the highest civilian honors that a state resident can receive.

State park police Officers John J. Friot Jr., 36, and Dustin T. Lottie, 33, were each presented a New York State Liberty Award by state Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, at the Dobisky Visitors Center.

The officers were responsible for rescuing 71-year-old Thomas L. Clark, Malone, from the St. Lawrence River this summer after Mr. Clark passed out at the helm of his 28-foot cabin cruiser because of carbon monoxide fumes. Mr. Clark and his boat were headed toward a dam near Massena.

Mr. Clark called for help on his marine radio just before 11 a.m. June 2. He was on his way to the Robert Moses State Park marina after getting some repairs done on his boat when the boat stalled.

He got it started again as Officers Friot and Lottie arrived in a police boat.

Although the Coast Guard called them off their mission, the two officers continued in their boat, determined to escort him.

“It was just one of those gut feelings,” Officer Friot said. “We just wanted to make sure he made it back safely.”

Following Mr. Clark’s boat, the officers realized something still was not quite right.

“The boater suddenly made a veer towards the dam,” Officer Lottie said. “When we got up next to the boat we noticed the operator slumped over the helm. He was unconscious.”

An engine manifold pipe had blown a hole, filling the cabin of the boat with carbon monoxide fumes.

Officer Friot was able to jump onto Mr. Clark’s boat and put it in neutral.

“We realized he needed medical attention immediately,” he said.

Officer Lottie got the boat started and together, the two men were able to dock it at the marina, where they made sure a medical team was waiting for Mr. Clark. He was taken by ambulance to Massena Memorial Hospital, where he recovered from the carbon monoxide poisoning.

Officer Friot said that although neither he nor his partner has seen Mr. Clark since the incident, the boater was able to thank them over the phone.

“He was very thankful and happy that we were there to make sure he made it in OK,” Officer Friot said.

Sen. Ritchie presented each officer with a medal and a framed award as a thank-you for their heroism.

She said the men are being honored not only for their service to the community but for their service to the state.

“The fact that these two gentlemen went above and beyond, risking harm to themselves, to save Mr. Clark just made me think that they should be acknowledged and presented with the Liberty Award,” Sen. Ritchie said. “Sometimes people get a little disheartened with what’s going on and these two gentlemen show that there are still people out there willing to go the extra mile and risk their lives to save someone else.”

Officer Friot said that had he and his partner not followed through, Mr. Clark might not have made it back to the marina.

“It possibly would’ve had a different outcome, potentially,” he said.

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