3 in local law enforcement presented Congressional Commendations
2 honored for saving Walmart customer; Undersheriff praised for quick action in avoiding head-on collision
ALBION – Three law enforcement officers in Orleans County were presented with Congressional Commendations today for life-saving efforts while on duty.
Congressman Chris Jacobs presented the commendations in the legislative chambers at the Orleans County Administration Building.
“These men have answered the call to serve their communities,” Jacobs said. “They are wonderful examples of law enforcement officers.”
He first recognized State Trooper Scott Gregson and Kevin Colonna, an investigator with the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office. They responded to call at Walmart in Albion on Nov. 3.
That day a 77-year-old man was down, non-responsive in the store and not breathing. A Walmart employee did chest compressions while Gregson ran to get an A.E.D. (automated external defibrillator) from his patrol vehicle.
Colonna had just had refresher training two weeks before on an AED. The two officers administered the AED and the shock revived the man.
State troopers have been carrying AEDs in most of their patrol cars for at least five years, said Major James Hall, Troop A commander based in Batavia. The troopers are often the first on the scene for people in medical distress.
Undersheriff Mike Mele attended the event in the legislative chambers to show his support for Colonna. It was Mele’s first public appearance since he was badly injured on Dec. 5 in a car accident on Route 31 in Albion.
Mele was driving to the Public Safety Building after meeting with two people in a Covid compliance check for the Health Department.
On his way driving on slick, snow-covered roads, another driver slid across the center line and would have hit Mele in a head-on collision. He instead turned right and went off the road. He struck the corner of a house and suffered three broken ribs and badly broken right leg.
He had his dog, Sadie, with him. Sadie, a mastiff, died from her injuries from the crash.
Jacobs presented Mele with a Congressional Commendation for his quick action, which may have saved the other driver’s life – certainly sparing her from serious injury.
Mele said he remains in pain from his right leg. Doctors just discovered two more broken bones near his ankle. He has had to keep the leg straight after getting plates and screws in his tibia plateau, the area below the kneecap.
He expects to begin physical therapy in early March and return to the office in mid-March.
He said he has been overwhelmed with the outpouring of support from the community and law enforcement agencies around the state. He said at least half of the sheriff’s offices from the state have sent cards, wishing him well in his recovery. Many in the community have dropped off meals and have been praying for him.
“I’ve been really humbled by all the support and the cards,” he said.
Mele has stayed connected to the Sheriff’s Office through Zoom meetings and phone calls. He said he is used to an active lifestyle and taking on many rolls for the Sheriff’s Office.
“Some things in life you take for granted, and one is being able to get out of bed and walk,” Mele said. “Everyday it’s getting better, but this has been hard. I’ve gone from functioning on three to four hours of sleep to be totally bedridden.”