James Persyn III, 14, and his sister Acelin, 11, shook hands with reporter after reporter outside the Board of Commissioners room at the Isabella County Building Tuesday evening.
At 7 p.m., Isabella County Sheriff Leo Mioduszewski presented the Shepherd residents with “Lifesaving Awards” for their part in the protection and survival of a Central Michigan University student who was abducted outside of the Student Activity Center and later sexually assaulted on Jan. 16.
At the opening of the meeting, Chairperson George Green expressed his gratitude to the siblings, praising them for their acts of bravery that night when the victim sought entry into their home shortly after escaping her captor.
“We are all very proud of what you did,” Green said.
This is only the second time in eight years that Mioduszewski has given out the prestigious award.
“These two went above and beyond what normal students would do,” Mioduszewski said. ”There’s no question in my mind that her captor intended on murdering her that evening. Fortunately for the victim, that’s the only reason she’s alive today … she ran to James and Acelin, who were home at the time.”
Mioduszewski was referring to the decision James and his sister made to let the CMU student into their home, conceal her in their bathroom and give her the phone to call police shortly before their father, James Persyn Jr., returned home.
When asked what it was that made him open the door to a stranger that night, James III was both humble and quick to answer.
“Her voice,” James III said. “Just her panic.”
In addition to their award, Mioduszewski gave them a two-night stay at the Soaring Eagle Water Park and Hotel, 5665 E. Pickard Road, with passes to one of the resort’s restaurants for the entire family.
“I’m just really thankful,” James III said. “It’s definitely amazing.”