Groveport Police officer honored for heroic efforts

By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport Editor


Groveport Police Officer Ryan Ripson was honored for his heroic efforts in rescuing a driver from a car that had gone off the road an splashed into Blacklick Creek last winter.

With the temperature in the 20 degree range, Ripson waded into the waist deep icy water of the creek on Jan. 21 around 7 a.m. to rescue the driver from her partially submerged car, which was about 30 yards from the shore line.

The incident occurred at the State Route 317 bridges over Blacklick Creek near Bixby Road.

Groveport Police Chief Casey Adams said Ripson received the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department’s STAR Award (STAR is (S) Selflessness, (T) Teamwork, (A) Accountability, (R) Respect) presented by Franklin County Sheriff Dallas Baldwin on Oct. 15. Ripson will also receive the Central Ohio Crime Stoppers Award at the Central Ohio Crime Stoppers annual recognition banquet on Oct. 20.

Photo courtesy of Sgt. Josh Short and the Groveport Police Department
The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Rescue Dive team helped secure the car with straps for crews from Long’s Towing and Eitel’s Towing to haul it up out of the creek after Groveport Police Officer Ryan Ripson rescued the driver.

“We are all very proud to see one of our own just not only receiving the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department STAR Award, but also the Central Ohio Crime Stoppers Award for his dedication to protecting and serving the city of Groveport community,” said Adams.

According to Adams, when Ripson arrived at the scene of the accident that cold January morning, he could only see the vehicle’s roof top due to the rest of the vehicle being submerged under the icy, murky water.

“He saw the female driver struggling to exit the vehicle’s driver side window to get out of the frigid water and the vehicle was still sinking in the muddy bottom of the creek,” said Adams. “He could see that the driver was struggling in the cold weather and frigid water temperature and attempts to throwing a life jacket to the driver were unsuccessful. Without hesitation, Officer Ripson decided the best course of action was to enter the frigid water himself and go to the stranded female to check on her well-being to make sure she had not sustain serious injuries.”

“The water was so cold it took my breath away and the footing of the creek was muddy and difficult, so I assisted her wading back to the creek bank after reaching the vehicle,” said Ripson. “I could see the driver was uncomfortable getting out of the car herself and, after an attempt to throw her a life vest was unsuccessful, I decided to wade out into the creek and escort her to the bank before the situation got worse.”

Adams said Ripson’s actions were risky due to the cold temperature of the water, but as retired Groveport Police Chief Ralph Portier stated at the time, “Officer Ripson did not have a second thought about going into help, it’s a decision he made from the heart and it’s something that cannot be trained.”

After this incident ended and the scene was secured, Adams said, “Officer Ripson, as usual, did not want recognition for his actions, he just wanted to go home, take a shower, put a clean uniform on, and go back to work.”

According to Groveport Police Lt. Josh Short, the investigation revealed the driver was allegedly traveling northbound in the southbound lane of State Route 317 and swerved into the median to avoid southbound traffic.

“The driver and car went into the median and then vaulted over the Three Creeks’ bike path, down between the bridges, striking the south bank of Blacklick Creek and skimming two thirds of the way across before coming to a rest in the water,” said Short.

According to Short, Ripson is “a quiet, unassuming person, but for him to choose to go help this freezing woman out of that car comes as no surprise. Rip (Officer Ripson) is a Groveport guy at heart, grew up and graduated from high school here, and has always tried to help maintain a higher quality of life for our residents.”

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