CRANSTON, RI – February 20, 2008 – When Correctional Officer Kenneth Lussier arrived late to work on the morning of Tuesday, February 19th, at the Rhode Island Department of Corrections’ Intake Service Center, he had a good excuse!
Shortly after leaving his Glendale, Rhode Island, home, Officer Lussier noticed that a car had skidded on black ice on Old Victory Highway, rolled onto its side and down an embankment, and its engine had caught fire. Trained to act decisively and remain calm in the face of an emergency, Officer Lussier pulled over and investigated, only to find a woman driver trapped inside the vehicle. A neighbor came outside with a fire extinguisher to try and help, and Officer Lussier was able to break open the car’s sun roof and free the driver, calling for assistance from the Burrillville Police Department, who came to the scene.
Captain Robert Clancy, the shift commander at Intake that morning, quickly overlooked the veteran officer’s tardiness when he heard his heroic story. Later that day, Captain Clancy received a call from the RIDOC’s Acting Associate Director of Maintenance Arthur Fillo, who was calling to track down the officer who had rescued his division’s longtime Implementation Aide Evelyn (Lyn) Parenteau from a car wreck that morning. Lyn had called in to work, explaining to her boss that she had been in an accident on the way in to work from her Mapleville home and was going to take the day off. She had recognized the Correctional Officer uniform on the Good Samaritan who had come to her aid, but didn’t know who the man was.
Corrections Director Ashbel T. Wall presented Officer Lussier with a Letter of Commendation for this act of bravery in a small ceremony at the RIDOC’s main Administration Building on Thursday, February 21st. Director Wall takes pride in recognizing his staff when they perform heroic acts, either on or off the job. “While performing their daily duties,” Wall stated to the assembled personnel, “our officers act with courage, providing for public safety of their fellow staff, visitors, and inmates under their supervision.” He continued, “Officer Lussier’s actions Wednesday morning exemplify the qualities we seek in our staff – competence, composure, professionalism, and excellent judgment.”
One of the first priorities of Ms. Parenteau upon returning to work was to express her gratitude to a colleague she had never met and a fellow northern Rhode Islander whose bravery and compassion she will never forget.