Cynthia Constable will never forget the early morning hours of Aug. 30, 2016.
“I was awakened by what I thought was my phone, but it was my smoke alarm going off.”
“When I got up to get out of my bed I couldn’t breathe because there was so much smoke in my room, so I found my cell phone and called 911,” Constable told SooToday at the annual Police Community Programs Night, held Tuesday at the Delta Sault Ste. Marie Waterfront Hotel.
“I was able to get my window open, but as soon as I opened my window more smoke would come in.”
Two officers in a police cruiser — Constable Paul Gravelle and Constable Trevor Pluss — arrived at the woman’s two storey west end home less than a minute after hearing the 911 call.
“I was able to get the screen off my window but I couldn’t get over the ledge to get out, so the officers climbed up to help me get on the overhang over the front porch,” Constable said.
A problem with a faulty light ballast in the home’s basement caused the fire, Constable said.
“I was lost. I didn’t know what to do. I’m just happy to be here.”
“I thank God that they were able to get up to my window to help me out.”
There was no one else in the home.
“When we pulled up there was so much smoke you could barely see her in the window. The fire department wasn’t there yet, and we knew we had to get her out of that window so she could get some fresh air,” Gravelle said.
“We had to get her out on that overhang so she could be safe from all that smoke.”
Not long after, Sault Fire Services arrived.
Gravelle and Pluss were among several police officers, civilians and community groups recognized for heroic deeds and hard work at Tuesday’s awards.
For Gravelle and Pluss, it was their first time dealing with such a situation, but there was no hesitation on their part.
Heroes indeed, but both officers told SooToday it’s just part of their job.
“It was just a natural reaction, we both saw how much smoke there was and we got up on the roof,” Pluss said.
“It was just instinct, you do what you have to do,” Gravelle said.
“It’s what we do. People say ‘congratulations’ but it’s what we do, we signed up to help people, and I’m just so happy we were able to help her out,” Gravelle said.
“We were able to visit her a couple of hours after in the hospital and we were glad she was going to be okay. It’s very humbling to be recognized for what we do,” Pluss said.
Interestingly, Constable’s son, Beau Neveau, is also a Sault Police Service constable.
He too was recognized at Tuesday’s awards for aiding a Nunavut teen who was robbed in town while trying out for the Soo Thunderbirds.
Gravelle and Pluss were not aware Constable was Neveau’s mother at the time of her rescue.
“It’s extra special knowing we could help a family member of one of ours,” Pluss said.
“You hope you never see it (dangerous situations such as Constable’s) but when you do, you act right away. We’re happy we were able to help, I hope we never encounter that again but in our job it’s a realistic possibility. (If it does) I just hope I’m able to do exactly what I did and that it has the same outcome,” Pluss said.
“I’m just glad it worked out, for everybody,” Gravelle said.
“They’ll always be my heroes, forever,” Constable smiled.
Below is a list of award winners from Tuesday’s Police Community Programs Night.
Herbert Lash Jr. – foot pursuit and apprehension of a theft suspect who was also wanted by police on outstanding warrants. Held for police.
Eli James Hachey and Tiia Anne Bonin – foot pursuit and apprehension of a suspect who attempted to steal their motor vehicle. Held for police.
Ryan Creagh and Carly Breckenridge - called 911 regarding an impaired driver.
Kay Lorraine Ralph and Jason Derek Richards – called 911 regarding an impaired driver.
Carrie Herbert and Tineka Francis Huffles - called 911 regarding an impaired driver.
Paul Michaud, Gavin Browning, Leena Taivanen - saved life of a man (Justin Dyer) who fell in the water at Bellevue Marina.
Mac’s Convenience Stores, for leadership and community commitment by implementing proactive steps to decrease crime while also investing in social development.
Algoma District School Board, for its ABCD Program, for ongoing dedication and commitment to student wellbeing through education in the prevention of substance abuse.
Sault Area Hospital Crisis Services, for their partnership and commitment in the development of the Sault Ste. Marie Community Crisis Response team.
Local Health Integration Network, for supporting a partnership between Sault Area Hospital and the Sault Ste. Marie Police Service in their Crisis Response initiative.
Superior Family Health Team, for providing accessible medical services to downtown residents via the implementation and ongoing commitment of a Neighbourhood Resource Centre Medical Clinic.
Ontario Nurses Association and United Steel Workers Local 2251 (two separate awards), for their community engagement and assistance rendered to the Neighbourhood Resource Centre.
RCMP Sault Ste. Marie Division, for long time and continued support rendered to the Sault Ste. Marie Police Service.
RCMP Marine Security Enforcement Team, for its contribution to marine safety and security on the waterways of Sault Ste. Marie and Prince Township.
Constable Beau Neveau - took care of teenage robbery victim from Nunavut who was in town by himself trying out for the Soo Thunderbirds.
Inspector Mike Kenopic – work in the development and implementation of the Sault Ste. Marie Community Crisis Response Team.
Constable Chris Kellar – work in the development and implementation of the Sault Ste. Marie Community Crisis Response Team.
Constable Trevor Pluss and Constable Paul Gravelle, saved life of woman (Cynthia Constable) caught in a house fire.
Constable Derek Pelletier, Constable Steven Potter and Veronica Bergamin – saved life of missing person (Cindy Scheuermann).
RCMP Constable Dan Chevalier, for long time support of Sault Police in joint investigations and training.