NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — Two New Bedford police officers were honored Friday for going well above and beyond their job descriptions.
March 2 started as any normal day for Captain Dennis Ledo, until a call came in for a car that was in the water off West Beach.
“Observed a car maybe 80 to 100 yards from shore,” said Ledo, who was first on the scene. “Asked a couple of bystanders what was going on, they said the driver was still in the vehicle.”
Without hesitation, he ran into the frigid water.
“We were able to make our way to the car which was a little deeper than what I expected,” Ledo recalled. “We were able to reach the individual, pull him to safety. He lost consciousness briefly, we were able to get him to shore and the medics were right on scene.”
Also being honored at the event was Det. Gene Fortes, who received the Chief’s Achievement Award for helping hurricane victims in Puerto Rico.
“Originally I’m from New Bedford, I was born at Saint Luke’s Hospital. We moved to Puerto Rico when I was 10 years old,” Fortes said Friday.
Fortes spent about a decade of his childhood in Puerto Rico and seeing the destruction caused by the storms broke his heart.
“I just felt the need to do something,” he said. “I didn’t know what to do, I just knew I had to do something.”
Fortes organized a donation drive at police headquarters in which 300,000 pounds of supplies were collected.
However, he took it one step further and traveled to Puerto Rico to help hand out supplies to 4,000 families in 19 different communities.
“This is what I wanted to do,” Fortes added. “I wanted to help our community, meaning New Bedford. I never thought it would take me to these uncharted waters.”
In the past two years, eight officers have been given the Chief’s Achievement Award and just two have earned the Life Saving Award.