In recognition of their swift and courageous actions, the Toms River Police Department recently honored six police officers and a brave resident who saved lives in four separate incidents during the first half of 2023.
One of the recipients, Matthew Zanetti, received the prestigious Citizen’s Award for his selfless act on February 15. As police and firefighters rushed to extinguish a fire at 1822 Merrimac Drive, witnesses recounted how Zanetti, a neighbor on his way to work, noticed the flames spreading due to high winds. Without hesitation, he grabbed a fire extinguisher from his vehicle and managed to subdue the blaze until the fire department arrived. Police Chief Mitch Little praised Zanetti, stating that his quick intervention prevented further damage and protected neighboring homes and citizens from harm.
On February 2, Officers Alexander Van Lew, Henry Farnkopf, and Anthony Pacella responded to a distress call on McCormick Drive, where they found an unconscious juvenile who had recently undergone a medical procedure. Realizing the child wasn’t breathing and had no pulse, the officers immediately initiated CPR and prepared to transport her to the hospital. Their prompt and skillful actions paid off, as the victim regained consciousness and began breathing on her own upon reaching the medical facility. Chief Little commended Officers Van Lew, Farnkopf, and Pacella for their life-saving efforts, relying on their training and experience in a critical moment.
In the early hours of May 13, Officer Justin Barberi was conducting routine business checks when he discovered a vehicle illegally parked in the BJ’s Wholesale parking lot. Upon closer inspection, he noticed a man appearing to be sleeping inside with the engine running and a garden hose attached from the exhaust into the car’s interior, signaling a possible suicide attempt. Acting swiftly, Barberi intervened and removed the distressed individual from the vehicle. He immediately administered life-saving first aid while requesting additional police and emergency medical services. Thanks to his diligence and quick thinking, the victim regained consciousness and received the necessary medical and psychological evaluation at the hospital. Chief Little lauded Officer Barberi for his remarkable dedication and application of training, which undoubtedly saved a life that day.
Finally, on May 27, Officers Rich Karkovice and Walt Herman rushed to the scene after receiving a report of an individual who had fallen in the Wawa parking lot at Normandy Beach. The officers discovered the victim without a pulse and not breathing, prompting them to administer immediate first aid. Their swift response led to the individual regaining a pulse and resuming breathing on their own. Chief Little praised Officers Karkovice and Herman for their quick and decisive actions, using their training and experience to avert a potential tragedy.