Skip to main content

Conservation officer, in right place at right time, honored for lifesaving effort

nrc awards

Michigan Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Holly Pennoni was honored Thursday with a Lifesaving Award at the Michigan Natural Resources Commission meeting in Lansing.

Pennoni is credited with delivering rescue breaths to an unconscious man, Ross Gillespie of Cadillac, who - as the result of an unexpected medical condition which caused his blood pressure to plummet - crashed his vehicle on the side of the road while driving southwest of Cadillac on May 18.

Pennoni, driving behind the vehicle, witnessed the incident, called 911 and assisted Gillespie until an ambulance arrived and transported him to the hospital.

"Detective Holly Pennoni was in the right place at the right time," said Chief Gary Hagler, DNR Law Enforcement Division. "Mr. Gillespie, EMS personnel and the survivor's attending physician all believe that Pennoni's quick actions contributed to saving this man's life. Any delay in response would have resulted in a fatality."

A conservation officer since 2000, Pennoni was promoted to detective in 2015. Her position is funded through the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy to investigate environmental crimes that threaten Michigan's natural resources.

Michigan conservation officers are fully commissioned law enforcement officers who provide natural resources protection, ensure recreational safety, and protect residents through general law enforcement and conducting lifesaving operations in the communities they serve.

Accepting applications for 2022 academy

The DNR is currently hiring conservation officer recruits for a 2022 academy. The application deadline is Feb. 28. Learn more at

Note to editors: An accompanying photo is available below for download. Caption information follows.

Award: From left to right: Lt. Vence Woods, Chief Gary Hagler, Sue Gillespie (survivor's wife), Det. Holly Pennoni, Ross Gillespie, Capt. David Malloch, DNR Director Daniel Eichinger. Pennoni was presented with a Lifesaving Award at Thursday's meeting of the Michigan Natural Resources Commission in Lansing. Pennoni is credited with saving Ross Gillespie's life last May after he suffered a medical emergency while driving and crashed his vehicle on the side of the road.

Contact: Lt. Vence Woods, 989-705-3449