Two Niagara Regional Police officers will be recognized for on-duty acts of bravery on Tuesday, having medals presented to them by the appointed Governor General Julie Payette.
Constables Philip Sheldon and Dale Culley will be among more than 60 remarkable Canadians to be recognized, receiving the Star of Courage and the Medal of Bravery, respectively, for their bravery during a horrific incident of arson in 2015.
The Star of Courage recognizes acts of conspicuous courage in circumstances of great peril.
The Medal of Bravery recognizes acts of bravery in hazardous circumstances.
On the day of the incident (July 5), Sheldon and Culley were called to a residence in Vineland for a family domestic disturbance.
When they arrived, both officers heard cries for help coming from the residence, and ran inside to assist without hesitation. Sheldon was first through the door, followed closely by Culley.
Upon entering, they found a 50-year-old man standing in the living room beside his 73-year-old wheelchair-bound mother. The man had poured gasoline throughout the room.
Tithin seconds of the officers entering the residence, the man ignited the gasoline, engulfing the room in flames.
Sheldon attempted to rescue the woman, suffering significant injuries as a result.
Both officers were injured, though they managed to escape the blaze. Sheldon was on fire, but Culley managed to extinguish the blaze.
Culley then tried to re-enter the home, but was forced to retreat due to the intensity of the fire.
The man and woman in the house both died.
A recognition ceremony will take place on Tuesday at 2 p.m. at the Fairmont Royal York in Toronto.
“It is difficult to put into words the respect and admiration I have for Constable Sheldon and Constable Culley,” said NRPS Chief Bryan MacCulloch.
“These two men were called into service and without hesitation put their lives on the line to protect and serve. The bravery displayed by both Phil and Dale is a true testament to the strength of their character and underscores the brave acts that sometimes go unnoticed each and every day by the men and women who proudly wear the NRPS Uniform. I along with the rest of the NRPS thank them for their dedication and commitment to our community.”
Sheldon thanks his wife and children for helping him through his time of recovery.
“I want to thank Tanya for all her love and support. For her constant care, ensuring I complete my daily exercises and for driving me to my countless daily appointments. From helping me through the nightmares and the constant flashbacks, to tending to my burns and skin care when I want to give up.”
“I have had a lot of time to think of life and all of its pleasures and difficulties. With all the negatives that stem from this kind of injury, there are also many positives. It has given me more patience and love and appreciation for my family and friends. It also made me look at the big picture of life. It has given me a firsthand look at mental health in a way that unless you go through it, it is very difficult to really understand. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in first responders is a very real thing. It is not a sign of weakness but merely another obstacle to overcome in the road back to a normal life.”
“June is PTSD awareness month please consider the men and women 1st Responders who serve your communities. Your support of them is so important.”
Culley said similar sentiments about his family.
“I have gone through a lot over the last couple years. I would like to thank my wife Lisa, my daughter Avery, and sons Gavin and Colton; their love has given me so much strength. My family and friends are incredible.”