City of West Chicago
475 Main Street
P.O.Box 488
West Chicago, IL  60185

Contact: Gabrielle Wallace Don Goncher
  630-918-9210 630-293-2222
Date:  April 21 , 2005  

West Chicago Police Officers selected to receive
Illinois Law Enforcement Medal of Honor

WEST CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, APRIL 7, 2005 – West Chicago Police Officers Patrick O’Neil and John Zurick were selected to receive the prestigious Illinois Law Enforcement Medal of Honor award based on the nomination of Interim Police Chief Donald Goncher. This award is presented to law enforcement officers who are killed or seriously injured in the line of duty or who have displayed exceptional bravery or heroism while performing their duties as law enforcement officers.

The West Chicago officers were nominated for their role in rescuing two children, 8 and 10, who fell through the ice into a pond near an apartment complex last December. The officers broke through the ice to rescue the two youths. Another man also helped.

"The award was a complete surprise and a complete honor," said Officer Zurich. Commenting on the rescue, Zurich stated "I saw what happened and reacted. I think a majority of first responders would have reacted that way. It's instinct. You have to rely on your training."

According to Don Goncher, Interim Police Chief, the officers also received awards from the City of West Chicago and DuPage County.

"This is good for the department, the officers and the city. This honor is not lightly bestowed and shows people how well trained our law enforcement professions are to save lives,” said Goncher.

The awards will be presented to the officers by Governor Rod Blagojevich on Friday, May 6 at the Governor’s Executive Mansion in Springfield.

West Chicago is the fastest-growing city in DuPage County in the western suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. With a current population of more than 25,000, West Chicago is a diverse, family-oriented community with a rich cultural mix and a proud heritage. West Chicago is the first Illinois community established by the railroads and continues to be a convenient transportation hub served by three major rail lines, Illinois' third-busiest airport and three state highways. West Chicago offers award-winning schools, a growing industrial park and convenient access to parks, shopping and restaurants. Additional information and current events can be found on the city's website at