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Officer honored for saving victim

BRADENTON — A longtime Bradenton Police Department officer has been awarded the agency’s Medal of Merit for resuscitating a man suffering from a heart attack who crashed while driving.

Master Patrol Office Danny Bench will receive the department’s third highest honor for his response to the Jan. 13 crash during which he pulled a 69-year-old man from his car.

Bradenton police officials said Monday that Bench was not even on duty when the crash occurred, but he rushed to the scene after leaving an off-duty security detail.

At around 9:30 p.m., the man was driving westbound in the 2500 block of Manatee Avenue, when he had a heart attack causing him to lose control of his vehicle. The car crashed through hedges and slammed into a concrete pole. Bystanders rushed to the scene and called 911.

Bench was the first to arrive and found the man unconscious with no pulse. He pulled the man from the vehicle and gave him CPR. Emergency personnel arrived and took over, taking the man to Manatee Memorial Hospital where doctors stabilized him and he began breathing on his own, according to Bradenton police reports.

Police officials say Bench, who has served with the department since 1998, and is currently a school resource officer, is a model for all law enforcement.

“A job well done for Officer Bench,” Bradenton Police Deputy Chief J.J. Lewis said. “This just demonstrates that there are many different instances in which a police officer’s duties can involve saving a life, and it really has a positive impact on all law enforcement.”