For the past five years, Heroes Day has taken place to honor Southern Arizona’s first responders. Last week, three were awarded Hero of the Year, including Marana police officer Dan Rowan.

Rowan, who is a retired New York City firefighter, is a 9/11 survivor from Lower Manhattan’s Engine 33/ Ladder 9. He has been with the Marana Police Department since 2005 as a patrol officer.

On Oct. 17, he was given the award for saving the life of a woman who tried to kill herself. 

On April 17, while out on patrol, Rowan noticed a car parked in a lot near Orange Grove and Interstate 10. He talked to the woman and asked if everything was all right to which the woman said she was fine.

Rowan continued his shift, but thought something wasn’t “right” about the woman. Nearing the end of his shift, he went back to the area where he had last seen the woman, but she was gone.

After a search of the area, Rowan found the car parked way out in the middle of a bunch of trees with the woman unconscious inside, which was a result of her mixing a large amount of pills with alcohol with the intention of killing herself.

He was able to get her out of the car and began to give her first aid until paramedics arrived.

Had he not checked on her, the woman would have surely died.

Marana Police Chief Terry Rozema presented the award to Rowan and spoke to the large crowd gathered for the ceremony at La Encantada.

“I can’t think of a guy who optimizes more the word ‘hero’. When I think about the guy, there’s a number of things that come to mind,” Rozema said during the ceremony. “He is just genuinely a good human being – a great guy to be around. You will never meet another person who has a bigger smile on their face than Dan Rowan or who has more enthusiasm for life and the profession of a policeman and a public serviceman, than this guy. He just has a huge heart.”

Rowan has been known to turn his radio on seven hours before his shift to know what is going on and to hear if there is a situation where a fellow officer needs help, whether they are in Tucson, Oro Valley or  the county. To him, police officers are the same no matter where their jurisdiction is.

“He’s your public servant, he’s our friend, he’s our brother, and he’s our hero.” Rozema said.

With a handshake and a hug, Rowan accepted the award. 

After the ceremony, Rowan was visibly touched by the kind words from his chief.

“That was everything to me,” he said.

Along with Rowan, two other first responders were recognized as the Hero of the Year.

Michael Schick, who is a U.S. Border Patrol supervisor, risked his life rescuing three people abandoned in the trunk of a car that burst into flames after it crashed into a barbed wire fence in the desert while being pursued by Border Patrol agents.

After calling the Tohono O’odham Fire Department, he tried to put out the blaze, which had spread to nearby brush, with an extinguisher. Moments after the rescue, the car’s gas tank exploded.

Jason Hamilton, who is a Southwest Ambulance emergency medical technician (EMT), was on his way home after a 24-hour shift working a mass casualty incident on Interstate 10. While driving, he noticed a car being driven erratically, then crashing into a guardrail. As the vehicle teetered over the rail with a wash below, he pulled the elderly female driver from it and performed CPR with the assistance of a nurse on the scene until a Drexel Heights fire crew arrived to take over.

The event is put on by Jack Furrier Tire and Auto Care, and sponsored in partnership with The University of Arizona Medical Center.

Heroes Day was started in 2008 to honor Officer Hite, who was shot and killed after responding to a Tucson residential shooting, and to thank law enforcement members who serve the state and put their lives at risk every day.

Hite’s wife, Nohemy, spoke in addition to The University of Arizona Football Coach Rich Rodriguez, and Peter Rhee, MD, chief of trauma, critical care and emergency surgery at the University of Arizona Medical Center.

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