Justin Virgilio (from left) offers up his non-dominant hand to Glenrock Police Department Animal Control Officer Stuart McCrary after presenting him with a plaque for his heroic efforts when he saved Virgilio’s life Aug. 17. (Brooke Young/The Glenrock Independent photo)

Brooke Young,

    A brisk, blustery forecast washed over the modest community of Glenrock as afternoon set in Aug. 17, permitting gray-hued clouds to camouflage the usual sunny streets of downtown.


The sudden drop in temperature caused a sense of wariness to be felt in the heavy air, demonstrated by the noiseless essence of the town. 


It was a scary day, indeed – it was the day Animal Control Officer Stuart McCrary saved a life – and, not one belonging to a fellow four-legged furry friend.


To be in the right place at the right time – it’s a figure of speech nearly every person has heard at least once in their lifetime. 


Thankfully, good fortune was on the side of one Glenrock local that particular day.



Justin Virgilio was finding enjoyment in the day, working side-by-side with his wife, Shye, who happened to have the day off from work. Together, the duo were taking advantage of the calm before the storm, making progress in their yard. 


As he recalled that day, he gave reference to the smoky atmosphere around him Sept. 8, similar to that of Aug. 17.



The day Virgilio told his tale of survival was three weeks following the incident. The details were still fresh in his mind.

“We were just outside doing yard work and there was a storm blowing in.


“I began closing one of our bedroom windows from the outside.


“The window shattered.


“My hand went in and kept going downward until the glass punctured (my arm) straight to the bone,” he said, recounting his life-threatening accident.


What he didn’t know at the time was that the glass had punctured his ulnar artery, causing an injury that can become deadly within minutes. 


Almost immediately, Virgilio called to his wife who was only 20 feet away at the time, another blessing in disguise that fateful day. 


Within the span of seconds, Shye ripped off the shirt from her back, wrapped it tightly around her husband’s wrist, dialed 9-1-1 and put him in her car, speeding off towards the Glenrock Police Station.


Husband and wife were acutely aware death was near if they didn’t get the help they needed – and they needed it immediately.




“I just happened to be in dispatch when the call came in,” McCrary said, speaking about Virgilio’s accident.


With 40 years of veterinary medicine experience, McCrary had handled hundreds of similar medical emergencies  before, although on animals.

“As soon as I hit the door, dispatch said they were out front. I turned around and they were sitting in their car – so then I ran.” 


By the time he had reached the Virgilio’s car, Justin was pale, his arm was blue and he was undoubtedly in the process of losing consciousness due to extreme blood loss.


Time was short.


McCrary worked quickly.


His mind was racing, remembering the Red Cross trainings all officers are required to attend.


He applied a tourniquet on Virgilio’s bicep, put the proper dressings on, added a tight wrap and reset the tourniquet down towards the forearm, all before the ambulance arrived.


“From the time of the call to the time the ambulance showed up, (it was) three minutes,” McCrary said with a chuckle of disbelief. 



According to Glenrock Police Chief Colter Felton and the medical staff that worked on Virgilio once he reached the hospital, if it hadn’t been for McCrary’s awareness of the severity of the situation and the flawless placement of the dressings, Virgilio might have lost his life that day. 


 McCrary said he was simply doing what any officer would have done. 


“I dealt with traumas like this with animals for years,” he said as he looked at the floor. “It is different working on a person though – a little bit more special. But, you know . . . being in a small police department, this is just the kind of stuff you have to do.”


Felton graciously disagreed, paying tribute to McCrary for being a “do-it-all-without-being-asked-to kind of guy.”


“I’m super proud of him, but that is just the type of employee he is,” Chief Felton said.


Shye struggled to contain the depth of her gratitude regarding McCrary’s fast actions, actions which saved her husband’s life that afternoon. 


McCrary recalled a text he received from her the very next day, thanking him for his help. 


“I didn’t really think I had done that much but it feels good to know that I did,” he said humbly.


“I always think back on how things went when I do something, to see where I can improve, and to hear that the doctor said I did a perfect job – wow.” 


According to the surgeon, Virgilio damaged 70% of the tendons in his wrist, and he certainly has a long road to  recovery ahead. He was set to begin physical therapy Sept. 9, and the length of treatment is dependent on how fast he begins to heal, but the doctor estimates six months to one year, due to the amount of time it takes for nerves to repair themselves.


“He was great. That is pretty much all I can say,” Virgilio said of McCrary, with a faint trace of emotion in his voice.


To add to the stress of the situation, Virgilio added that he has been on blood thinners following a previous heart attack, so once he arrived at the hospital, two nurses were put on a rotating shift to keep pressure on the artery at all times to try and stop the bleeding until the orthopedic surgeon became available.


McCrary’s heroic actions did not go unnoticed. He was presented with a life saving award at the Glenrock City Council meeting the evening of Sept. 12.


The Virgilios were in attendance, displaying big, appreciative smiles.


Glenrock Independent

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