Had it not been for quick thinking and dogged police work by 42 Division Constables Yiorgo Christodoulou and Kim Kelly, a young boy might not be alive today.
The officers sensed something was wrong when the lad and his sister were picked up at their school earlier in the day by their father.
“He told teachers they had some appointments to attend to,” related Christodoulou. “The mother said that was not the case and, while she told us he was a good father and she had no concerns for the children’s safety, she was worried that they did not show up with the school bus in the afternoon when she was there to pick them up.”
Christodoulou who, with Kelly – who was unable to attend the event – were honoured with Commendations at the Service Awards at Toronto Police headquarters on March 25, knew they had to act fast.
“We did a bit of digging, but we didn’t have a lot to go on,” he said. “The children’s father didn’t have a vehicle, cell phone or friends and family in the area. We called his bank to trace his transactions and that led us to a hotel where he had checked in.”
When the officers showed up at the hotel room and knocked on the door, they were greeted by a male voice on the other side.
“We identified ourselves and the person told us to hold on,” Christodoulou noted, before having to gain access to the hotel room on their own where they found a boy on one bed.
“He was conscious and breathing,” said Christodoulou. “On the other bed, there was a young girl without vital signs and the father was lying there, face down, with a bag tied over his face. We performed CPR on the girl and tried speaking to the boy to find out what happened.”
The six-year-old girl, Evangeline, was taken to hospital where she was pronounced dead and the father was revived in hospital. Jason Adotey, 35, was charged with First-Degree Murder and Attempted Murder.
“Who knows what might have happened to this young boy had we not showed up at that moment?” reflects Christodoulou, who has remained in contact with the little boy and his mother. “This is the worst crime scene I have witnessed in my six years on the job. I have a family and small children and it was difficult dealing with something like this.”
Sergeant Mark Yeandle, of 43 Division, was among the 121 officers and two community members honoured for going above and beyond the call of duty.
In May 2014, Yeandle and other officers responded to a call for a distraught 19-year-old man who was sitting on the ledge of a bridge overlooking Highway 401.
Yeandle, a mentor officer in Afghanistan in 2009-2010, spoke with the man who was safely removed from the ledge and back onto the bridge where he was apprehended under the Mental Health Act.
“Finding that common thread with an individual through contact and building on that is crucial in situations like this,” said Yeandle, who joined the Service 28 years ago. “It’s critical that that trust is established. It’s exceptionally important if that individual has a re-occurrence, he will understand that the next officer that’s presented before him is there to help him.”
This is Yeandle’s fifth Service Award.
“It’s nice to get recognized, but there are other officers who are going about their daily business and doing remarkable jobs,” he said. “I was just doing my job.”
This was the last Service Awards ceremony for Chief Bill Blair, who retires from the Service’s top office next month.
“I am very proud of the men and women of this Service,” he said. “Every day, our people go out there and do amazing things and we celebrate those courageous and brave deeds. I have always enjoyed these nights. I know this is my last one. This is the last time I will stand up, shake their hands, take their salutes and say thank you. I reflect on that. While I am a bit sad, I am also filled with an enormous amount of pride. It has been a privilege to stand here and thank these extraordinary people.”
Toronto Police Services Board Chair Alok Mukherjee said selfless acts of bravery and excellence in the performance of the honourees work deserve praise and admiration.
“This is one of the ceremonies in which the board takes great pride as we believe it’s extremely important to recognize those individuals whose dedication and heroism make our city a better place,” he pointed out. “These are the individuals who draw attention to the professionalism, dedication to service and the bravery with which so many police officers carry out their daily duties.
“The members of the Service, who have been honoured this evening, have far exceeded their already-demanding day-to-day activities. Doing their jobs in neighbourhoods across this city, these individuals embody the essential core values of our Service in all that they do.”