Twinsburg K-9 officer honored by local Red Cross
TWINSBURG – Twinsburg K-9 officer Yamil Encarnacion had just donated blood to the local Red Cross a few days before he was called to the scene of a vehicle rollover. He rescued a child from the vehicle, but he injured his knee and had to take about five months of medical leave to heal and undergo physical therapy.
So when he spotted an email from the Red Cross some time later, he didn’t pay attention to it, figuring it was just a thank you for his blood donation.
“I thought I had gotten a spam email,” Encarnacion said. “Finally, I was told by my department ‘check your email.'"
The actual message of the email was more than just a thank you for his pint of blood. Encarnacion is one of seven people who are being honored by The American Red Cross of Greater Akron and the Mahoning Valley for their bravery and acts of heroism during a time of emergency.
The American Red Cross of Greater Akron and the Mahoning Valley will honor Encarncion and the others at the 25th annual Acts of Courage Awards.
The event on March 4 will be a virtual event due to the coronavirus pandemic. It will begin at 11:30 a.m. with a virtual networking event, immediately followed by the awards presentation. To purchase tickets for the virtual event or for information on sponsoring the event, visit redcross.org/acts21.online.
On Aug. 29, Encarnacion rescued a 4-year-old girl, who was trapped inside of a totaled vehicle. Dispatchers had received multiple calls in regards to a rollover crash on I-480, east of Route 91
Police noticed that the little girl’s legs had begun to lose color. Encarnacion crawled into the wreckage, cut the child’s safety seat free and got her out of the vehicle.
Encarnacion, who returned back to work the week of Jan. 15, said he “was very surprised.”
“It’s an honor and a privilege,” he said. “It was not something I was really expecting. It’s just something we do every day. I wouldn’t hesitate to do this for anyone else.”
The rescue was a team effort involving several officers, Encarnacion said. He especially credited Officer Travis Ebetino, who rescued a second child from the vehicle.
“He was right behind me when I went to get the little girl,” Encarnacion said. “When I got her out, he got the other child out right after that.”
Encarnacion said that his father was a police officer.
“Growing up, I saw two worlds,” he said, with several members of his family also serving in the military. “To be there for others, to give selfless service, those values were installed in both military and police.”
Encarnacion’s law enforcement career started in 2006, when he worked for the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s department on SWAT and in the narcotics division. He joined the Twinsburg Police Department in 2010, where he worked for a year as a patrol officer.
“In 2011, I took a break and went to Afghanistan,” he said. The Army veteran finished his military service in 2014. At that point, he rejoined the Twinsburg Police Department, where he soon became the K-9 officer, working with Yasso, who retired in 2017. Yasso died last September. Encarnacion now works with K-9 Caesar.
“I get to do a job not everyone gets to do,” Encarnacion said. “I have a K-9 partner that watches my back. I got to work with him every single day, even when we are off work. Regardless what atmosphere we are in, I’m lucky to be in a city that is very supportive of law enforcement. We still have a place in this world that you find that satisfaction of going to work every day.”
Reporter April Helms can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org