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State park police officers awarded with highest civilian honors of the state

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Two heroes were awarded Tuesday with 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 with a New York State Liberty Award by State Senator Patty Ritchie at the Dobisky Visitor’s Center, 100 Riverside Ave.

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

Mr. Clark called for help on is marine radio just before 11 a.m. June 2, 2012. He was on his way to the Robert Moses State Park marina after getting some repairs done on his boat when his 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 Mr. Clark.

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

Upon following Mr. Clark’s boat the officers realized something was still 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 blew a hole, filling the cabin of the boat with 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 was able to get 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.

Mr. Clark was then taken by ambulance to Massena Memorial Hospital, where he recovered from the carbon monoxide poisoning.

Officer Friot said that although neither he or his partner have seen Mr. Clark since the incident last year, Mr. Clark 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.

Sen. Ritchie said that not only are the men being honored for their service to the community but also 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 may not have made it back to the marina.

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

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