Police officer honored for her heroism

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Federal Way police officer JulieAnn Benjert does not brandish a cape or have any inhuman abilities — but she is still considered a hero.

Benjert was one of 18 award recipients honored April 10 at the 12th annual Red Cross Heroes Breakfast for their heroic acts in 2007. Benjert’s efforts this past June to free a man from a traffic collision and stay by his side until medical care arrived earned her the award.

“This is a tremendous honor for Officer Benjert and showcases the professionalism and outstanding service provided by her and the Federal Way Police Department,” police chief Brian Wilson said.

The events of June 29, 2007, will not soon be forgotten by Benjert. She and fellow Federal Way police officer Stacy Eckert were returning from a training session in Renton when the two women approached a traffic collision.

A truck and van had met head-on when the truck crossed into oncoming traffic. Smoke could be seen and onlookers were screaming nearby, but nobody was taking action, Benjert said. She and Eckert stopped and discovered the driver of the van was choking. His seat belt had wrapped around his throat during the impact.

Benjert located a pair of scissors from among the motorists stalled by the accident and cut the seat belt from around the man’s neck. She then stayed with him until medical help arrived and removed the man from his vehicle with the “jaws of life.” He survived the experience.

Looking back on the situation, Benjert said stopping to help the collision victim was a natural choice. Her everyday job duties require her to protect the public, and her services this past June were an extension of that, she said.

“I wouldn’t expect the general public to do it, but I would expect any officer to do it,” Benjert said.

Benjert is honored to have received the award, but does not feel like a hero. Her father taught her the word should be saved for those, such as soldiers, who risks their lives for others.

“I have a hard time with the word ‘hero,’” Benjert said. “I just don’t feel deserving of that.”

Each of this year’s heros gave back to the public in more ways than one. The annual American Red Cross Heroes Breakfast is a fundraising event that benefits disaster relief efforts in King and Kitsap counties, spokeswoman Katherine Boury said. Each year, the organization honors local heroes, some of them community members and some service workers. Last year, the breakfast raised more than $300,000, with 80 percent of funds benefiting the Red Cross’ general operating budget, Boury said.

“It’s really a great way to recognize people in our community,” she said.

Contact Jacinda Howard: or (253) 925-5565

Check it out:

Anyone can submit a nomination for an American Red Cross hero award. To submit a nomination for someone in King or Kitsap county who has performed a heroic act, visit

Other heros:

JulieAnn Benjert’s award is the second received by a Federal Way police officer, police spokeswoman Cathy Schrock said. Former Federal Way Cmdr. Ken Morgan was given the award in 1998. Among this year’s award recipients are teenagers and a former Redmond Police Department K-9 dog named Monty, a firefighter and an HIV/AIDS educator, among others. To view a full list of the award recipients, visit the Red Cross Web site.

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