Behind The Badge: Utah National Guard medic Erik Bornemeier honored for heroic rescue attempt

Behind the Badge

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – A Utah Air National Guardsman and former Behind the Badge subject recently received the Utah Cross, the second highest honor awarded in the state.

We first introduced you to Technical Sergeant Erik Bornemeier back in December when we spoke about his duties with the National Guard and the Davis County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Team. What he didn’t tell us back then was that he was involved in another heroic effort on June 2, 2020.

That day, a suspected drunk driver going the wrong way on State Street collided with a motorcycle near the intersection of 7200 S. in Midvale, creating a horrific scene.

“We need to give gratitude to an Air Force medic who arrived here on scene shortly after and tried to save the life of our motorcycle rider,” Unified Police Department Sgt. Melody Cutler said that day.

That medic was Sgt. Bornemeier, on his way to supervise Covid-19 testing at Mountain America Expo Center for the National Guard.

“It was a head on collision between a car and a motorcycle,” says Bornemeier. “I saw somebody laying in the street.”

Bornemeier, who has extensive military and emergency training, grabbed his medical kit and provided first aid to the victim, 81-year-old Albert Higginson of Midvale, himself a U.S. Marine Corps veteran.

“He was able to give me his name. He was…talking,” says Bornemeier. “He was answering all the questions that we need to ask.”  

For ignoring the danger of passing cars and rendering assistance to Mr. Higginson on the busy street, the Air National Guard awarded Bornemeier the Utah Cross in a ceremony on March 15.

At the presentation, The Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Michael J. Turley, presented Bornemeier the medal.

“The honest truth is that none of us know that we’ll do the right thing until presented with that moment,” Turley said. “I can safely say that in this event, Sgt. Bornemeier did the right thing, at the right time, and for the right reasons.” 

Bornemeier estimates he’s played a role in nearly 900 rescues in his 18 years as a volunteer with Davis County, including the nighttime operation to save three kayakers who capsized in the Great Salt Lake and the harrowing effort to airlift a skier with severe hypothermia out of Farmington Canyon, but this one was different. He was not able to save Mr. Higginson’s life and was there for his final words.

“It’s a hallowed, sacred time for a first responder to sometimes get those last words,” Sgt. Bornemeier said. “And I was able to get those to the family.”

Sgt. Bornemeier won’t share Mr. Higginson’s last words but says he’s honored he was there at that moment and able to relay them to his wife of 56 years and his daughter. 

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