Fire department presents lifesaver award

The heartwarming ceremony honored Chris Stonecipher, an Oak Harbor resident.

The Oak Harbor Fire Department presented a Lifesaver and Community Hero Award to a young man for a heroic act that occurred during a basketball game.

The heartwarming ceremony honored Chris Stonecipher, an Oak Harbor resident and a member of the Fidalgo Thunder Special Olympics basketball team.

At a game in Anacortes on Jan. 5, 2020, Stonecipher noticed that something was wrong with his fellow teammate. She had been feeling sick and during the game she passed out and began to fall, but Stonecipher acted quickly and was able to catch her before she hit the gym floor. She was then able to receive emergency medical attention.

The COVID-19 pandemic delayed the award ceremony for over two years, but the community was finally able to come together and give Stonecipher the proper thanks Monday night.

“We should be doing (this) on a much more regular basis, which is to stop and celebrate when somebody does something outstanding in our community,” said Captain Craig Anderson of the Oak Harbor Fire Department.

Anderson shared some background information on Stonecipher, who is 27 years old and works two jobs at the Veterans of Foreign Wars and Maple Leaf Cemetery. He has also volunteered to coach basketball.

“Chris loves being a contributing member of his community and helping people in need,” Anderson said. “He has an infectious smile and loves making people happy.”

Chief Ray Merrill said the department rarely gives out these awards but when he heard about Stonecipher’s heroic act, he wanted to make sure he was recognized, no matter how belatedly.

“I try to work as hard as I can in everything,” Stonecipher said when he received the award. “I just wanted to say thank you to everybody.”

The joyful night ended in the cutting of a cake that was specially made for Stonecipher.

“He trusted his gut and acted upon it, something that each and every one of us in the city of Oak Harbor should remember and strive to be more like,” Anderson said.