Thursday, October 29, 2015

Courting Awareness

As October comes to a close I just want to send a shout out to Rich Womelsdorf, the skilled trades manager for Montgomery County, for finding a way to bathe the courthouse in pink to acknowledge national Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Each evening as the sun set, the pink illumination caused all those who walked or drove by the courthouse to take a moment to remember loved ones who have suffered from the disease and to reflect on the fight that continues to end it.

According to the American Cancer Society, 1 in 8 women in the U.S. will develop invasive breast cancer in her lifetime.

Every two minutes, a woman in the U.S. is diagnosed with breast cancer. The total number of breast cancer cases in the U.S. is forecast to be 50 percent greater in 2013 than it was in 2011, according to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, and National Cancer Institute/American Association for Cancer Research.

Thanks, Rich, for doing something that helped serve as an inspiration to everyone in Montgomery County to continue to make a difference in the fight against breast cancer.

"Courting Awareness" -Courthouse Illumination was Front Page News!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Judge Comes To The Rescue

Prosecutors, defense lawyers and courthouse employees were buzzing Wednesday about what some characterized as the heroic efforts of Montgomery County Judge Steven T. O’Neill, who apparently didn’t think twice before springing into action after witnessing a car crash at a gas station on Montgomery Avenue in Lower Merion about 8 p.m. on Tuesday.
Montgomery County Courthouse

Turns out O’Neill was pumping gas, minding his business, when suddenly a car entering the gas station lot crashed into a pillar holding up the canopy over the gas pumps. The female driver was unresponsive, her foot still on the accelerator, tires spinning, and smoke began filling the interior of her burning vehicle, according to sources.

O’Neill reportedly yelled for the attendant to call 911 while he dashed to the woman’s vehicle and banged on the windows to try to get a response from the driver while the vehicle’s tires continued to spin. Finding the doors locked and the woman still unresponsive, O’Neill grabbed a crowbar from the station attendant and smashed the back window of the vehicle to allow the smoke that was building inside to escape.
Judge Steven T. O'Neill
By that time, emergency crews arrived and were able to get the woman out of the vehicle, sources said.

Part of the rescue reportedly was videotaped on a cell phone by a bystander and appeared on a local television station’s web site.

O’Neill, who is the administrative judge for criminal courts and who has presided over the county’s Drug Treatment Court since April 2006,  wouldn’t comment about the incident when I asked him about it on Wednesday, apparently not wanting to draw attention to his actions or the incident. He only offered, “The cop got her out. The cop clearly was the hero.”

But O’Neill’s courtroom staffers see it differently.
“He is a hero. He doesn’t want any attention or accolades but the man is a hero. He really is. Just my opinion,” O’Neill’s trusted court reporter Ginny Womelsdorf said upon hearing about the incident.
Court Reporter Ginny Womelsdorf/Photo by Carl Hessler Jr.

I have to agree with the defense lawyer, who was full of praise for the judge and who I overheard say, "Maybe the judge should turn his robe in for a cape."

Wow. The incident surely is an example of how we can’t predict what situations will come at us during our routine, daily lives. It’s how we respond that truly defines us.

O’Neill should be commended for his quick thinking and dramatic efforts to help a fellow citizen in trouble.