Taylor police, firefighters, state trooper, paramedics are heroes

A Taylor police officer and firefighters, a Michigan State Police trooper from Taylor area paramedics are among the Hometown Heroes recognized at the Southland Shopping Center in Taylor.

The local heroes – who are recognized on a construction wall at the incoming Best Buy store at Southland – are all first responders who were responsible for saving the life of a 5-year-old Wyandotte boy who nearly drowned in a swimming pool at a Taylor home in July.

The boy and his family were enjoying a private pre-fireworks party at a home near Heritage Park during the Taylor Summer Festival. Michigan State Trooper Jacob Liss arrived at the home for the party and heard a child cry out that his brother was at the bottom of the home’s swimming pool. Liss, a paramedic for 10 years before becoming a state trooper six years ago, found the child without a pulse and not breathing. He immediately began performing chest compressions and rescue breathing.

Taylor police Cpl. Ted Michowski was nearby in the crowded neighborhood when the emergency telephone call was made. Michowski knew emergency vehicles could not navigate the packed street, so he raced to the child, loaded him into his squad car and, along with his partner, Cpl. Michael Caldwell, sped to the end of the street where rescue personnel were supposed to meet them. When no one was there, Michowski picked up the boy and raced him to the festival first aid station, where he handed the child to paramedics Joseph Nelson and James Hubbard of the Taylor Fire Department.

While Hubbard was administering chest compressions, Nelson was gearing up to transport the child to a waiting ambulance behind the Taylor Community Library. It was at this point that the child vomited and began to come to life.

Concord EMS paramedics Greg Fyffe and Frank Gilbert then transported the boy to Oakwood Medical Center in Dearborn. An hour later, the 5-year-old was sitting up and doing fine…thanks to some timely heroics. All of those involved received citations from the City of Taylor.

Southland also saluted Amy Uber of Trenton. She is only 18 years old, but she has been playing hockey since the age of 7. She has played two seasons with the Detroit Trackers, a 21-member team of which she was the only female, playing a grueling schedule of about 70 games. This has paved the way for her to be invited to play in the Girls National Select Festival in Lake Placid, New York. Her dream is to make the U.S. Olympic Team. She will play hockey for Harvard University this coming season.

The final hero didn’t win a thing, she actually lost…pounds that is, and lots of them. Martha Sibole of Brownstown Township recently celebrated shedding about 250 pounds – more than half her previous body weight. A few years ago, Martha weighed 450 pounds and suffered five strokes over a two-year period. She needed a wheelchair to move about and had to do dishes sitting in a chair. Sibole admits to being 52, but affirmed after losing all that weight, “I feel like I’m 18!” Once a binge drinker, suffering from post-traumatic stress from childhood incidents and a car accident, Sibole began therapy and stopped drinking. Eventually, she attended Weight Watchers and Alcoholics Anonymous. These efforts combined to bring her life—and weight—under control.

Southland continues to seek nominations to its Hometown Heroes wall, which is co-sponsored by the City of Taylor and The News-Herald Newspapers. Nomination forms are available at the site. Please turn in your entry to the Southland Management Office, attention Bob Collis. Heroes will be saluted as the mall winds its way toward the opening of Best Buy.

Previous honorees with Taylor ties included Taylor Police Officers of the Year, Cpl. Scott Atkinson and Detective Rick Hopper; the Harry S Truman High School varsity basketball team, which went 21-5 during the year; Rhonda Taylor, 23rd District Court clerk, whose quick actions helped save the life of a man who was threatening suicide; members of the Taylor Fire Department who responded to a major rollover accident on the I-94 Freeway in Taylor that resulted in a total of 15 victims; and World War II hero James Flannigan, an Allen Park resident who was honored for his heroism during Memorial Day 2006 ceremonies in Taylor. The Fire Department honorees were Battalion Chief Mike Brennan, Captains Jeff Morrow and Jeff Fall, Lts. Dan Doran and Tim Grapentien and Firefighters Ron Evina, Zoe Metro, Robert Lankton, Dennis Marshall, Alex Roman, Bill Dudek, Ron Howard, John Mesky and Shannon Threlkeld.

Other Hometown Heroes from the area have included Colonel Sara Phoenix of Woodhaven, the highest-ranking female Marine in Iraq; Riverview High School athlete Kyle Terpak, a state champion in the 400-meter dash; and Lincoln Park resident Amy Peterson, who celebrated Independence Day by traveling to the African village of Humjibre to serve as a volunteer with the Ghana Health and Education Initiative.

Southland Center is owned and managed by General Growth Properties, Inc., the second largest U.S.-based publicly traded Real Estate investment Trust (REIT). General Growth currently has ownership interest in and management responsibility for a portfolio of 210 regional shopping malls in 44 states as well as ownership in planned community developments and commercial office buildings. The company portfolio totals approximately 200 million square feet of retail space and includes more than 24,000 retailers nationwide. A publicly traded Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT), General Growth Properties is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol GGP. For more information on General Growth Properties and its portfolio of malls, please visit the company web site at www.generalgrowth.com.