Police Chief Jim Chu recognized a Kelowna couple for their bravery Wednesday after they saved a distraught man from plunging to his death at a downtown hotel in September 2012.
Chad Perepelkin, 27, and girlfriend Brittany Skusek, 26, received a certificate of merit during a ceremony hosted by the Vancouver Police Department at the Roundhouse Community Centre.
“It’s very amazing,” Perepelkin told the Courier after shaking hands with Chu and posing for photographs.
The couple said they were staying at a Days Inn hotel downtown when they were awakened around 1 a.m. after hearing screams and the sound of breaking glass.
They opened the door and saw a young man in the hotel’s hallway, carrying the lid of a washing machine. Skusek, a nurse, said the man “wasn’t really making sense” and appeared to be under the influence of drugs.
Perepelkin, an engineer, attempted to calm the man and got him to drop the lid. But then the man grabbed the lid and threw it through the window of a fire escape door on the third floor of the hotel.
He then dove onto the fire escape, where he tried to climb over the rail and jump off. That’s when Perepelkin grabbed the man in a bear hug and Skusek, who cut her knee on the broken glass, held on to the man’s belt.
“At first I was just trying to slow him down because I knew he had already caused damage,” Perepelkin said. “But then I realized afterwards, he was trying to jump off, so I just hung on.”
Skusek said two police officers showed up to help the couple pull the man back in the hallway.
“It was just instinct,” she said, when asked why she and her boyfriend helped the man. “You don’t want somebody trying to hurt themselves.”
The couple was among several citizens and police officers recognized Wednesday for bravery, diligence and expertise.
Other courageous acts by citizens included downtown McDonald’s staff and a customer wrestling a knife-wielding man to the ground who demanded free food.
Two men tackled a purse snatcher, another two men subdued a restaurant customer armed with a knife and another man captured a burglar on parole.
Const. Colleen McKitrick, a police negotiator, was awarded a chief constable’s commendation for her “outstanding level of service” over her 16-year career.
Over the past five years, McKitrick has been the prime negotiator on 105 police calls. In one case, she kept a 280-pound woman, who tried to pull McKitrick over a railing, from plunging to her death.
In another case, McKitrick was assigned to find two missing 12-year-old girls who had a suicide pact. She stuck with the case for weeks and discovered 23 other children were involved in the pact.
None committed suicide.
Several officers were recognized for their work in the Stanley Cup riot investigation, including members of the VPD’s forensic video unit.
Others received awards for busting a meth lab, capturing a serial child rapist and the execution of a successful project in the Downtown Eastside that led to the arrest of two men, drugs and guns.