Hilliard officer honored for his compassionate actions
Two months ago, Hilliard police officer Tony LaRosa helped a woman visiting from eastern Ohio cope with a tragedy.
It's something he would have done for anyone, but in this case it meant even more to LaRosa because they shared a common bond: membership in the family of law-enforcement officers.
On the evening of July 20, the Norwich Township Fire Department and Hilliard police were called to the parking lot of a restaurant on Trueman Boulevard where a man was suffering a heart attack.
Medics were not able to save the life of 57-year-old Tim Zadanski, who was chief of police in Bethesda, a village of about 185 people in Belmont County. The village is about 20 miles west of Wheeling, W.Va.
Zadanski and his wife, Penny, were visiting Columbus for the weekend, and the couple had gone to a movie and just finished dinner.
"There is a brotherhood among law-enforcement officers. You do your job every day and never know what to expect, but when you roll up (to a scene) ... and learn it concerns another officer, it's like dealing with your own family member," LaRosa said outside Hilliard City Council chambers Sept. 24.
The village of Bethesda asked to recognize LaRosa and present him with a plaque of appreciation for the service he rendered in the attempt to save the chief and the consolation he provided to Zadanski's wife.
"We appreciate it beyond words," Bethesda senior officer Richard Quinlan told LaRosa.
Bethesda Police Chief Jeremy Campbell read a letter from Penny Zadanski.
She wrote about being in an "unfamiliar area ... alone and scared."
"(LaRosa) treated me like family (and) stayed with me until my son and daughter-in-law arrived," even after being told I was all right, she wrote.
She said LaRosa demonstrated great "integrity and passion" in carrying out his duties.
Hilliard Mayor Don Schonhardt also praised LaRosa's actions, saying they were consistent with his character.
"I appreciate what the Bethesda police did to recognize (LaRosa) ... but (LaRosa) would do this for anyone. I've seen him do it time and again," he said.
Traveling with Campbell and Quinlan were Bethesda officer Justin Wise and Village Council President David Wines. Hilliard Police Chief Doug Francis introduced the visiting officials at the meeting.
The Bethesda officials said the sudden death of Zadanski rocked the seven-member police department.
Zadanski had been chief of the department for 37 years. He was 20 years old when he was hired as chief, and at the time of his hire, he was the only officer in the village.
Zadanski was chairman of the Belmont County Drug Task Force and the Belmont County SPII Task Force, which he founded in 2007. An acronym for Sexual Predator Internet Initiative, the latter task force is focused on identifying and apprehending sexual predators who use the Internet to locate victims.
Quinlan said the village department had encouraged Zadanski to take some time off and enjoy a weekend in Columbus with his wife.
"He had just finished a trial on Thursday (July 19) and then left for Columbus," Quinlan said.