Two Kennewick residents who didn't think twice about coming to the aid of an officer struggling with a suspect received special recognition Friday.
Sage Sterling, 18, and Nicholas Echols, 32, helped Officer Josh Sullivan restrain a 50-year-old man who had run from him during a traffic stop in March.
"You helped us live up to our motto 'Committed to your safety' and helped us keep our officers safe," said Kennewick Police Chief Ken Hohenberg as he presented a Citizen's Appreciation Award to both men.
On March 30, Sullivan responded to a call about a suspicious vehicle near Albertsons on Clearwater Avenue. It's a fairly routine call, Hohenberg said, but it was late at night and the driver decided not to stick around.
Driver Kerry Evensen slammed the car door and took off running, Hohenberg said. Sullivan gave chase.
Foot pursuits are dangerous for officers because they are chasing someone alone, and they can fall and get hurt, he said.
Evensen was a "convicted felon and this convicted felon didn't want to go back to prison," Hohenberg said. "This person had a lot of reasons to run."
Evensen apparently fell as Sullivan closed in on him and quickly tried to grab Sullivan's leg. The officer went down at one point and Evensen was able to get on top of the officer, he said.
"Without hesitation, both of these individuals -- who don't know each other -- actually came to the aid of Officer Sullivan and went hands-on to help him," Hohenberg said.
Echols, who lives in an apartment complex near the grocery store, said he was on the phone looking out his sliding glass door when he saw Sullivan run after the suspect.
Echols, who has a background in the military and is a former firefighter, said it was "natural instinct" to run after the officer and try to help.
When Hohenberg shook his hand and thanked him, Echols responded with a simple "anytime."
Sterling, a student at River's Edge High School in Richland, was in his car at Albertsons when he saw the commotion and drove to the apartment complex.
"By the time I got there, they were both wrestling on the ground and I just jumped in and helped," Sterling said. "I'm happy I can step up and do the right thing."
Evensen was arrested and still is in the Benton County jail. He was charged with a DUI and third-degree assault.
Hohenberg said Kennewick police are "very, very blessed" to work in a supportive community and have individuals willing to step up and help when needed.
In addition to certificates, the chief gave Echols and Sterling a Chief's Challenge Coin, which is given out internally in the department, a KPD mug and a pen with the department's motto that he said they could use "as you're out on patrol driving around making sure our officers are safe."