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Cass County recognizes citizen lifesavers

From left, Marge Fee, Ron Larson and Paul Fee greet Tim Heley on Monday at the Cass County Courthouse after they were honored for helping Heley survive a December 2007 snowmobile accident in Harwood, N.D. It was the first time they had seen Heley since the accident. David Samson / The Forum

Tim Heley of West Fargo met three people Monday who helped save his life a year and a half ago.

The Cass County Sheriff's Department recognized Marge and Paul Fee and Ron Larson, all of Harwood, N.D., for their efforts in helping save Heley's life after his snowmobile crashed in a ditch outside Harwood Dec. 14, 2007.

The Fees found Heley on their way to Fargo and immediately sought help from Larson, who was nearby.

Heley doesn't know what happened. According to Sheriff Paul Laney, Heley was severely injured and had spent most of the night in subzero temperatures.

His friend, Mark Paulson, did not survive.

"If it wasn't for the actions of these exemplary people, one fatality would have very easily turned into two," Laney said Monday as he addressed the Cass County Commission, where the awards were presented.

The Fees and Larson were among the first people to receive awards for outstanding citizenship and lifesaving in a program the Sheriff's Department recently started to recognize deputies and civilians for their actions.

"Thank you to the three of you for not looking the other way," Laney said.

After the presentation, Heley met with Larson and the Fees. They revealed details of the incident to Heley and he told them about his recovery, which is still ongoing.

"It's a blessing you're here," Marge Fee told him. "I thought about you so many times."

She said the best award was seeing that Heley is OK.

Heley said he'd always wanted to meet the people who helped save his life.

April Rohrer of Horace, N.D., was also recognized Monday for helping save a 9-year-boy's life a little more than a year ago.

The boy didn't think life was worth living and had climbed onto the limb of a fallen tree hanging over the Red River, Laney said.

It was late April, the water temperature was 35 degrees, and the boy threatened to jump.

"Had he gone into that current, I think we all know what would have happened," Laney said.

Laney and Rohrer, a member of Horace First Responders, waded into the water. She distracted him while Laney grabbed him. They both brought him to shore.

"April's a volunteer. She's somebody who has committed her time, her energy, she does this for love of her community and to give back," Laney said. "She didn't hesitate for a second that day, and because of that there's a 9-year-old boy who got the help that he needed and is still with us here today."

Rohrer said if she hadn't been there, someone else from Horace First Responders would have done it, but she was honored to receive the award.

"Kids are a really big part of my life," said Rohrer, who has four brothers, an infant son, and is working on a degree in child development and family science.

Along with the awards, the honorees also received shadow boxes with a copy of the citation for distinguished service and a medal.