Three Park Rapids officers recognized as lifesavers

Park Rapids Police Officer Joe Rittgers, at left, and Hubbard County Sheriff's Deputies Jarod Anderson and Eric Rypkema (not pictured) received lifesaving awards Tuesday from Park Rapids Police Chief Jeff Appel and Mayor Ryan Leckner.

The Park Rapids City Council on Tuesday applauded three recipients of the Park Rapids Police Department Lifesaving Award.

Police Chief Jeff Appel read a narrative of the incident and Mayor Ryan Leckner presented medals to Police Officer Joe Rittgers and Hubbard County Sheriff’s Deputies Jarod Anderson and Eric Rypkema for their lifesaving actions on June 19, 2018.

According to Appel’s narrative, the incident began that morning when Rittgers was dispatched to a report of a suicidal female at a residence in Park Rapids.

“It was reported that a female had doused herself in gasoline and was threatening to light herself on fire with a lighter,” said Appel.

Anderson and Rypkema also heard the call and responded to assist Rittgers, Appel said. On arrival, they found the female in a back bedroom with the lights off, surrounded by a strong odor of liquid lighter fluid.
“The female was clearly in a mental crisis and holding a lighter with her thumb on the flint roller,” said Appel. “Officer Rittgers attempted to talk with the female and convince her to drop the lighter and come out of the bedroom. The female refused to drop the lighter and at one point rolled the flint on the lighter, causing sparks.”


Rittgers “continued to attempt deescalation tactics with the female while working his way into the bedroom with her,” Appel continued. Rittgers “then used his flashlight as a diversion and rushed the female.”

The three officers took control of the female and removed the lighter from her hand.

“With complete disregard for their own safety,” Appel said, the three “worked together to make a quick, life-saving decision … all while dealing with an extremely high-stress environment. The actions of these three officers saved the life of the female, who was then able to get the medical attention she sho desperately needed.”

Certificates of achievement were also issued, recognizing Rapids Spirits liquor store clerk Betty Norlin for 15 years of employment and City Clerk Margie Vik for 20 years of employment.

In consent items and general business, the city council:

  • Approved payables totaling $19,846 and prepaids totaling $78,095.

  • Approved the low quote of $14,143 from Minnesota Pump Works to purchase two pumps for sewer department lift stations.

  • Approved the low quote of $2,069 from Josh’s Collision Center to repair damage to the police department’s 2018 Ford Explorer K9 squad vehicle.

  • Approved a change order reducing the contract for the Hwy. 71 frontage road and underground utility project by $17,576.

  • Set a public hearing for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 8 at city hall regarding the proposed vacation of a public utility easement, which would allow Eric and Jessica Mjelde to build an addition onto their house and garage at 1120 Timbers Dr.

  • Approved an update of the city’s arts and culture plan as recommended by the Arts and Culture Advisory Committee, based on the plan originally adopted in 2017. Additions and amendments included expanding the Red Bridge Park Sculpture Walk, repurposing the trestle bridge, renovating the beach house, and several more.

The city council’s next meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 24 at city hall.

Robin Fish is a staff reporter at the Park Rapids Enterprise. Contact him at or 218-252-3053.
What To Read Next
Mike Clemens, a farmer from Wimbledon, North Dakota, was literally (and figuratively) “blown away,” when his equipment shed collapsed under a snow load.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission met on Jan. 5, 2023, to consider the application for Summit Carbon Solutions.
Qualified Minnesota farmers will receive dollar-for-dollar matching money to purchase farmland.