“Super” Cop Climbs Pole, Rescues 3

by Paul Bass | November 10, 2005 11:59 AM | | Comments (3)

Officer Steve McMorris prepares to check out of Yale-New Haven Hospital Thursday morning and head home for a well-deserved rest after a dramatic rescue. Earlier that morning he climbed a pole at Three Judges Motel and saved the lives of three people trapped in a fire. “The only thing I could think of,” McMorris said, “was: ‘I’ve got to get up there.’”

McMorris was in the last hour of the overnight shift when he decided to swing by upper Whalley Avenue near the Woodbridge border around 6 a.m. He usually works the Hill; on this overnight, he was filling in for a Westville officer.

He saw smoke rising from the Three Judges Motel. “Sometimes when it’s cold people burn their furnaces,” he thought at first. Then he pulled close. The smoke looked thicker and thicker. Pulling into the Three Judges parking lot, he saw flames shooting out of a room on the second floor. No fire engines were at the scene yet.

McMorris called in the fire. Then he knocked on doors on the first-floor to alert people to flee. He climbed an exterior stairway to the second floor and knocked on more doors. Then he arrived at the room with the fire; the flames blocked his path to rooms on the other side.

So he leapt to the ground level. He looked up at the rooms. Only one way there: an approximately 12-foot pole. There was no time to wonder how he’d make it up there. He started climbing.

McMorris, a 32-year-old Jamaican native who lives in Eastern Circle and is in his fourth year on the force, works out with weights. Those work-outs have dwindled to about once a week. And he stopped playing Sunday soccer at the Boulevard league for the Athenian Diner team because he couldn’t afford injuries on the police beat. He does do push-ups regularly.

It was a hard climb up that pole. McMorris’ adrenaline was pumping. It got him up there, even when the temperature shot up as he approached the ledge.

He made it to the room next to the fire and urged the three startled adults outside. (Fortunately no one had been inside the room with the fire, McMorris said.) He ushered the adults— two men and one woman seemingly in their 20s, according to McMorris—to the end of the walkway. One of the adults prepared to jump down. Hold on, McMorris said. We’ll get you down.

Then McMorris jumped to the ground level again. By now another officer, Jim Evarts, was on the scene. The pair coaxed the adults down one by one. They had the adults step over a banister, then hold on to the banister as they dropped their feet over the ledge. Then they let go and fell into McMorris’ or Evarts’ arms.


McMorris had never saved anyone’s lives that dramatically before. “I like to think on my job I’m saving people every day, no matter how minor it seems at the time,” he said. “It’s very rewarding. You can save lives by talking to people and letting them know whatever situation they’re in— they’re using drugs or whatever — they can help themselves, or they can seek help.

“Sometimes they just need somebody to talk to. I work the 11-7 shift. A lot of people [like that] are out.”

After the rescue, McMorris felt a little dizzy, a little nauseous. He’d banged and bruised an elbow and one of his legs. A firefighter took him to Yale-New Haven Hospital’s emergency room, where the docs checked him. An X-ray showed his lungs clear. By 9:30, as he was being released, McMorris felt well enough to joke with a nurse and head home for some shut-eye.







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Comments

Posted by: Nicole E. | November 11, 2005 1:04 PM

I recently read your article about Officer Steve McMorris of the New Haven Police Department and what a hero he really is! We were in high school together many years ago. What a honor and privilege it is to know him. He truly is a wonderful man and truly needs to be recognized for his swift actions and bravery.

Thank you Officer McMorris, for keeping the streets of New Haven safe!

Posted by: S. Dixon | November 15, 2005 5:43 PM

I read this article with much pride. What a brave individual. Officer McMorris is a hero. He was willing to lay down his life to save others. His quick thinking and courageous act of bravery in alerting people in that motel prevented a tragedy. He saved the lives of three people trapped in that fire. Thank God he was in the right place at the right time. He truly has a blessing coming to him. I pray that God will continue to keep him safe. Thank you, Officer Steve McMorris for all that you do. I am so very proud of you. I look forward to shaking your hand very soon.

God bless you today and always.

Shirley Dixon

Posted by: Mili Vidro | November 18, 2005 9:35 AM

Officer Steve!
Thank you for your courage!!! I know that God placed you there at that moment because he knew you were the one to save these people's lives. May God continue to use you, and Bless you and your family..as you were a blessing to those whom you saved!
It pays off to be fit, and dedicated to your job. Hope to see you again soon.GBU. Mili

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