City police officers honored for lifesaving measures

New Castle patrolman James Heaney, left, and Sgt. David Viggiano display certificates they received for saving the lives of two people while responding to separate emergency calls.

Two New Castle police officers whose reactions with First Aid and other measures were honored Tuesday for having saved the lives of two individuals, one of them a now-convicted violent offender.

Patrolman James Heaney, a 10-year member of the city police force, and Sgt. David Viggiano, a 22-year veteran of the police force, were recognized with the police department’s Life Saving Award. They received certificates, and a pizza luncheon with their peers was sponsored by the department.

The awards were presented by Bobby Salem, the city’s police chief, who commended Heaney for his high level of performance and dedication shown during an Dec. 13, 2016, incident when following a 50-mile police pursuit of Shawn Hobel, an officer shot Hobel multiple times as Hobel was holding a gun to a woman’s head inside of a car on Interstate 376 in Union Township.

Hobel after the shooting was removed from the vehicle by Heaney’s fellow officers. Heaney arrived at the scene and stepped in, applying three chest seals to the bullet wounds on Hobel’s torso. Heaney explained that the seals essentially seal up the thoracic cavity to keep the victim breathing until he received hospital attention.

“Your action on that date saved a human life that would have expired without your direct action,” Salem said as he presented the award. “You took this action, even though the severely injured male is a known violent criminal. This shows your true dedication and value for all human life.”

Hobel has since recovered from his gunshot wounds and was convicted last month of three bank robberies and the police chase in which he took the woman hostage.

Viggiano was honored for his quick actions in applying a combat application tourniquet to a man whose leg was severed from his body in a car versus motorcycle accident on April 8 at the intersection Highland and Park avenues.

“Your training and experience during this accident helped to keep the victim from going into shock and prevented further loss of blood, which ultimately saved the victim’s life,” Salem said in presenting Viggiano’s certificate.

Viggiano explained that he was the first on scene when the accident occurred. He had recently completed a course called “Stop the Bleed,” for treating for blood loss from treatable injuries.

“They came up with techniques that soldiers in the military use as lifesaving measures,” Viggiano said, noting those military methods have filtered down to police and fire personnel.

“Had I not had that training, I would not have been able to use it,” he said of the tourniquet, and the information he gleaned from the course.

The motorcyclist, Aaron Windhorst, 36, of Ridgelawn Ave., Neshannock Township, underwent surgeries after the accident and, according to police, has recovered. A passenger on his bike, 43-year-old Kimberly Cook of New Castle’s East Side, suffered a severe leg injury, a broken arm and head trauma in the collision and is continuing to undergo medical treatment, according to the police.


Debbie's been a journalist at the New Castle News since 1978, and covers county government, police and fire, New Castle schools, environment and various other realms. She also writes features, takes photos and video and copy edits.

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