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Kenosha County Eye

Video: Pleasant Prairie Police Officers Save Life Of Man Overdosing On Fentanyl

Pleasant Prairie Police Officers Austin Kopera (Left) and Zach Burnside (Right)

On Tuesday March 22, 2022 at about 8:41pm, three Pleasant Prairie Police Officers were dispatched to a vehicle that was running and occupied in the middle of an intersection. The man inside was unconscious, and later learned to be experiencing a fentanyl overdose. The vehicle was still in neutral. Officer Kopera is a field training officer and was training officer Josh Girdaukas. Officer Burnside also arrived to assist.

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Seeing the car was in neutral, Officer Kopera ordered Girdaukas to place his squad in front of the man’s car, so it didn’t role into traffic. The man would not wake up to knocks, shouts, and even rocking the car. Officer Burnside then used his baton to smash the front passenger window to make entry. He then ran to his squad to grab his Narcan. Narcan is a drug that can successfully reverse the effects of opioods, like fentanyl. Burnside administered the Narcan and the officers removed the man from his vehicle. Several seconds later the man awoke, not knowing what happened or where he was at. He was combative at first, but then turned cooperative and apologized to officers saying that he was embarrassed. The police officers seemed to work in unison, with one checking the man for weapons and ID, and another moving the man into the “recovery position.” The ambulance arrived within a minute or two after he was awoken by the officer’s quick actions and training. The officers were seemingly sympathetic to the man with the increase in opioid abuse and addiction, and didn’t treat the man like a criminal, instead offering kind words of encouragement.

Pleasant Prairie Police Dave Smetana

“In the end, I am extremely proud of these officers, how calm and professional they remained throughout the incident and how they lived up to our mission statement of providing Professional, Competent and Compassionate Service.” said Pleasant Prairie Police Chief Dave Smetana. “All sworn personnel on PPPD have been trained in the use of Narcan and we have been for about 4 years. We have partnered with the Kenosha County Health Department who provides us with the training and the Narcan product.”

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Smetana hasn’t seen a large spike recently in Pleasant Prairie but in neighboring Kenosha, overdose deaths are on the rise. “Unfortunately, even a very small amount can be deadly and the user has no idea of what is in the product they are ingesting.” said Smetana.

The man who was saved by Officers is former Kenosha County politician Joseph Cardinali. We wrote a story yesterday about the consequences of this incident. He was charged with OWI and a felony for possession of Fentanyl.

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***The below video is graphic and KCE made the tough choice to publish it. It should serve as a reminder that heroin, fentanyl and all other hard drugs can result in death. Cardinali was lucky that the passerby called 9-1-1 and the officers acted quickly, according to training, and with professionalism. Many cases like this end with tragedy. Cardinali needs prayers for healing and recovery***


  • Kevin Mathewson

    Kevin Mathewson is a disciple of Christ, husband and a father to two wonderful children. Mathewson was born and raised in Lake County, IL and worked as a police & fire dispatcher from 2005 to 2010 in Round Lake Beach, IL. Mathewson moved to Kenosha County in 2006, later being elected to the position of Alderman of the 8th District in 2012 and 2016. Mathewson is a private investigator, security contractor, journalist, and photographer. He enjoys spending time with his family, watching movies, camping and boating. His favorite amendment is the second, followed closely by the first. He loves his country and community.


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5 Responses

  1. Wow! Literally in the middle of the intersection. He should be singing praises to them police officers. The same ones he said to defund. Where’s all his political buddies to seek “justice”

    1. He won’t. He will be back to bashing cops and republicans in no time. What he did was reckless and could of got someone seriously injured at that intersection.

  2. Kudos to the pleasant prairie PD. Nice job, thinking when precious moments are waining. Both officers show selfless immediate action. atta boy to both, I’m sure the chief is proud as can be.

    Keep up the good police work….

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