A West Valley City police officer who put his own life on the line to comfort a critically injured woman trapped beneath a bus was recognized by his colleagues Thursday for his compassion.
West Valley City police Officer Kevin Peck on Monday initially crawled beneath the bus to check the pulse of 24-year-old Aryann Smith, when the young woman suddenly grabbed his hand and told him not to leave her alone.
Ignoring the possible danger, Peck, a nine-year veteran of the department, remained beneath the Utah Transit Authority bus, holding Smith's hand until medical personnel arrived. Smith suffered two broken legs that reportedly required surgery to repair.
In a Friday morning interview aired on ABC's "Good Morning America" program, Peck said it was the bravery of the woman pinned underneath the bus that impressed him, and that he was just doing his job.
He said he saw one of her feet as he walked up to the bus and got down on the icy ground to check on her.
"She wasn't able to move, but thankfully she could still breathe," Peck recalled. "She squeezed my hand and told me not to let go. I told her that I wasn't going anywhere (and) reassured her we had paramedics and firefighters coming to help. . . . (I) was praying and hoping it would be only a matter of moments (until they arrived)."
Peck was recognized for his actions by his supervisor. Peck has also since visited Smith, who has been upgraded to stable condition, at Intermountain Medical Center. West Valley City police Sgt. Mike Powell said the woman is expected to make a good recovery, but it's too soon to say if that recovery will be a full one.
He said Peck's compassion, captured in a photograph by Kevin Conde, simply highlights all the good officers serving in law enforcement.
"I really like that photograph because it really brings to the forefront of the mind, the touch of reality that we've kind of lost with law enforcement," Powell said. "People seem to lose track and misplace that the police officers are human beings. We do this job because we like to help people. These are things we in some way, shape or form, we deal with every day."
How did Peck sum up his actions?
"There are things that happen that really make you appreciate life and how fragile it is," he said.