Manatee deputy honored for helping save bicyclist hit by golf ball

rdymond@bradenton.comMarch 10, 2014 

Edward Poelsma, a Manatee County Sheriff's Office deputy, stopped to help a cyclist hit by a golf ball while riding his bicycle last month. Poelsma was recognized as Deputy of the Month by the Sheriff's Office. PHOTO PROVIDED


MANATEE -- Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube said he loves it when someone tells him something positive about one of his employees. It's been happening a lot lately, the sheriff said Friday.

"Almost every month they seem to be doing something," Steube said. "Sometimes it's even off duty where they are saving a life. It's all pretty impressive to me."

The latest rescue involved Deputy Edward Poelsma, who was named February Deputy of the Month after he helped save the life of a woman who had suffered a deep cut on her forehead and was bleeding profusely when she was knocked off her bicycle by a stray golf ball from a nearby range.

Poelsma, 46, the married father of three who works as a corrections officer at the Manatee County jail, loves to ride his bicycle three or four times a week, especially with other riders. On Feb. 4, he was riding on El Conquistador Boulevard with a group from Ringling Bicycles.

Poelsma has competed in the Police Olympics all over the state and in triathlons.

"As we were riding in the early morning we saw an older woman in front of us who was down on the road," Poelsma said Friday. "Cars were going by. A fellow rider, Jessie Stroud, stopped with me and we ran over to help her. I sent the rest of our group on."

Poelsma got a hankie from a driver who stopped and applied pressure to the deep, 2-inch wound on the victim's forehead. He then did basic head trauma checks.

"She knew who she was, what year it was and who is president," Poelsma said. "She told us she was OK and didn't want EMS but I could see she needed EMS-ing."

Poelsma had Stroud call 911.

"When EMS got there they could see the wound went down deep to her skull," Poelsma said. "It was like she had been cut with an Exacto knife. I don't think the golf ball did it. I think she fell off the bike when the golf ball hit her and she hit the handle bars or something sharp.

"I made the decision to move her very carefully to the sidewalk because she was in the road," Poelsma added. "I tried to keep her spirits up and got the bleeding stopped."

While EMS was on the way, Poelsma called the victim's husband.

"I told him his wife had been injured but that she was OK and I needed him to be calm and not drive fast," Poelsma said. "I told him where we were and that I would wait with her bike and that EMS would be gone with her when he arrived."

After EMS took the victim to Blake Medical Center, Poelsma waited for the husband who did not know where Blake was. So Poelsma loaded the bikes into the husband's car and they drove to Blake.

"I made sure he got in the hospital and then I rode my bike home," Poelsma said.

Poelsma didn't let the case go there.

"I kind of worried about her all day," Poelsma said. "A hit like she took, I can't even imagine it."

He was also angry.

"The worst thing for me was that there were five or six people on the driving range and I watched them all pack up their stuff and leave," Poelsma said. "Not one came to check on her. You knew they knew that one of them had hit someone. But they just loaded up and got out of there."

Followup visits

Poelsma went up to the hospital later that day with his wife, Janet, and discovered the victim had surgery for a broken hip sustained in the fall and had bleeding on her brain as well.

"The next day I went back to the hospital and spoke to her," Poelsma said. "She was in good spirits. It didn't seem anything would deter her from riding her bike again, which made me happy.

"She thanked me. But, really, I would stop for anything or anyone, even if I am riding. If more people would stop and help it would be a better place. I have always been like that."

Poelsma joined the sheriff's office in 1991. He's a 1985 Manatee High School graduate who went to the state tournament as a varsity high school wrestler. His wife has worked for Bealls department store for 30 years. His children, including Macy, 19, Marshall, 20 and Chelsea, 25, work for Bealls, Publix Supermarkets and Lee Roy Selmon's restaurant, respectively.

Steube thought Poelsma's actions showed quick reaction and compassion.

"Edward was off duty when this happened and may have saved this woman's life," Steube said.

"I didn't expect anything like this," Poelsma said of getting Deputy of the Month. "I did it because it was the right thing to do it."

Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter @ RichardDymond.

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