Students, Teacher Get VIPD's Highest Honor for Rescue Effort

Oct. 1, 2008 — Two students and a teacher at John H. Woodson Jr. High School have received the V.I. Police Department's highest civilian award for risking their lives to rescue passengers trapped in an overturned and burning school bus.
"We are rejoicing today instead of mourning," said Police Commissioner James H. McCall. "What could have been a tragedy was averted by your actions."
The awards went to students Gary Jarvis, 14, and Jahthwan Barnes, 15, as well as teacher Patricia Boatswain-Marcellin. The young men were on the bus along with nine other students between the ages of 8 and 15. Boatswain-Marcellin was nearby when the accident happened.
McCall presented the Civilian Service Awards Sept. 19 during a ceremony at Woodson. The award is a gold-engraved plaque mounted on dark mahogany wood, inscribed with these words: "For courageous service and bravery to the community of the Virgin Islands."
Calling them "local heroes," McCall praised the students and teacher for "putting service above self" and risking their lives to save others. Their actions warranted the highest award possible, he said.
"You can include this award on your future college application," McCall said, advising the students to pursue their dreams, work hard in school and stay away from bad company. "It is a highly respected honor to have one of these."
Acting St. Croix Police Chief Oakland Benta was also present for the award presentation.
"You have set yourself above the others with your unselfish act," Benta said. "Never let your peers trivialize your accomplishment."
Both McCall and Benta commended Boatswain-Marcellin for keeping a cool demeanor in the face of what could have been a major tragedy.
The boys escaped the burning, overturned bus by kicking out several windows. With the assistance of Boatswain-Marcellin, they rescued the other students and the bus driver, who was knocked temporarily unconscious as a result of the accident.
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email