A veteran Vermont law enforcement officer is recovering at a hospital after suffering a serious medical emergency during a high-speed chase Friday.
Al Buck, the chief of police in Richmond, who previously was a Vermont State Police captain, took a lead role tracking 52-year-old burglary suspect Jerry Savo of Burlington.
The pursuit wove through several Vermont towns Friday. According to court papers, it hit 90 miles per hour, which is more than twice the speed limit in some spots.
According to a report filed with the Vermont Superior Court's Chittenden County Criminal Division that was written by Det. Sgt. Michael Kamerling of the Vermont State Police, Savo allegedly passed vehicles on blind corners and nearly collided with oncoming vehicles.
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During that chase of Savo, Chief Buck suffered a heart attack.
Cpl. Rick Greenough of the Richmond Police Department, who visited Buck in person at the hospital, said the chief went into full cardiac arrest.
Greenough said his boss, who has nearly 40 years of service in Vermont law enforcement, showed remarkable skill and foresight by having the wherewithal to safely pull over before losing consciousness.
As described in the affidavit by Det. Sgt. Kamerling, other officers involved in the pursuit slammed on their brakes and attended to Chief Buck, starting CPR.
Greenough noted that Buck's vehicle was outfitted with a defibrillator that a Vermont State Police trooper used on the chief before he could be taken to the hospital.
At first, according to the affidavit, Buck was in critical condition at the University of Vermont Medical Center.
Over the weekend, the Richmond Police Department said Buck stabilized. Greenough said Monday the veteran law enforcement officer is now recovering well.
"He's in good spirits," Greenough said. "He's understandably tired — it's been sort of a long weekend for him — and he's recovering better than could be expected."
Geoff Urbanik, the town manager of Richmond, noted that in Richmond's small police department, Chief Buck is often out in the community, on patrol, or responding to incidents himself. Buck shows great enthusiasm for such assignments, Urbanik said.
"He's always out there, always wants to be first on the scene, he's always involved, and he's really an amazing asset to the Richmond community," Urbanik told necn Monday. "And we all love him for it."
Savo pleaded not guilty to several charges including burglary, resisting arrest, and negligent operation of a motor vehicle. Judge David Fenster ordered the suspect held on $25,000 bail.
Cpl. Greenough said the department is optimistic Chief Buck will be released from the hospital later this week.