With a radiant smile, a Toronto Police officer modestly recalls the heroic act that led to him being honoured as this year’s winner of the 54th Annual Police Officer of the Year award.
“I think that night was a set of very fortunate circumstances — that I was so close, I knew the area, but anyone in my situation would have done the same thing,” Const. Alexander Yuanidis said Wednesday..
In May 2020, the 43 Division officer arrived on the scene of a three-alarm fire in Scarborough and saw a fireball explode on the north side of the home.
Two men were stranded on a second-floor deck because there weren’t any stairs
Yuanidis’s “heart was pounding” and the “adrenaline kicked in” as he secured a 12-foot ladder from a neighbour.
After helping the younger man down the ladder, Yuanidis rescued the second man who had limited mobility and needed assistance.
The 16-year veteran of the service “punched out the spindles of the railing” with his fists in order to save the 85-year-old.
Sugy Kodeeswaran, a family member, later commented on the tragedy: “Our family owes officer Alex a great debt because he saved the patriarch of the family with three children, their partners and eight grandchildren.”
Yuanidis was honoured with the prestigious award for his “calculated risk, acting decisively and bravely, while putting his personal safety at risk in order to save others.”
“It’s a huge honour,” said Yuanidis, who was quick to point out his fellow officers perform acts of heroism on a daily basis in the city.