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Three conservation officers honored for lifesaving efforts in Newaygo County

Michigan Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officers Tim Barboza, Brandon Benedict and Jeff Ginn were recognized with DNR Lifesaving Awards for their efforts in two separate incidents in Newaygo County. The honors were handed out at Thursday’s Michigan Natural Resources Commission meeting at Bay College in Escanaba.

Motorcycle accident

In May 2022, Barboza responded to a motorcycle-vehicle accident at East 1 Mile Road and North Sycamore Avenue in Lincoln Township. The motorcycle operator, Richard Wilson, 30, was lying on his back, with visible, life-threatening injuries.

Barboza immediately applied a tourniquet to Wilson’s injured leg which slowed the loss of blood, while continuing to assess and care for other injuries.

Wilson was transported by Aero Med to the hospital, where, pre-surgery, doctors said his odds of surviving were less than 25%. Thankfully, Wilson beat those odds.

“It took a large team to save my life, but CO Barboza’s quick action was instrumental to my survival, and myself, my wife and my three children are all so grateful,” Wilson said.

Wilson told the DNR earlier this year that he was walking with a prosthetic leg and preparing to return to work.

“The calm conversation Barboza had with Mr. Wilson while providing first aid was instrumental to keeping this family of five together, which the DNR is extremely grateful for and proud of Barboza,” said Chief Dave Shaw, DNR Law Enforcement Division.

Ice rescue

Barboza, Benedict and Ginn are credited with saving the life of a 21-year-old man who, in January, broke through the ice of Blanch Lake and spent about 30 minutes in the freezing water.

Ginn also received a DNR Distinguished Service Award for the incident. During the rescue, Ginn also broke through the ice and at one point was able to climb out, but jumped back into the water to keep the man afloat.

“Officers Barboza, Benedict and Ginn displayed courage and selflessness by quickly responding to a very dangerous situation, which became even more threatening when Ginn fell into the freezing water,” said Shaw. “They relied on their training and worked as a team for a successful outcome – their acts of heroism are inspirational to us all.”

Ginn, who has been a CO since 2006, and Barboza, a CO since 2018, both patrol Newaygo County. Benedict, a CO in Shiawassee County, was hired in 2022 and was being trained by Ginn at the time.

Michigan conservation officers are fully licensed 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. Learn more about the division – including updates on the DNR’s current training academy – at

Note to editors: Accompanying photos are available below for download. Caption information follows.

Officers: COs Tim Barboza, Brandon Benedict and Jeff Ginn were were recognized with DNR awards for their efforts in two separate incidents in Newaygo County. Pictured, left to right: Asst. Chief Brandon Kieft, CO Jeff Ginn, CO Brandon Benedict, CO Tim Barboza and Chief Dave Shaw, all from the Michigan DNR Law Enforcement Division.