Medal of Valor – Summary of Heroic Acts for by Sfusaro

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									   Medal of Valor – Summary of Heroic Acts for 2003 Ceremony
                            CITATION FOR A HEROIC ACT

                                       performed by


                            JUAN MERCADO (Porterville, CA)
                                  Conservationist 1

                              California Conservation Corps


        On March 13, 2002, Conservationist I, Juan Mercado heard a young girl's cry for
help. With no hesitation, Juan Mercado ran across the street where he quickly
discovered that a pit of dirt had collapsed on three girls, burying them alive. He
immediately called to his crew for help. Without regard for their own safety, his Crew
Leader Joseph Verska and Corpsmemeber Robert Lugo climbed a seven foot high
barbed wire fence and began digging with their bare hands in the 14 foot deep pit, in an
attempt to free the girls. Juan Mercado immediately called 911 as he frantically looked
for tools that could speed up the life saving efforts. After finding nothing, he too climbed
the barbed wire fence and began digging with his hands. They realized how unstable
the conditions were as large amounts of dirt fell on their legs. Despite these
circumstances, they continued to dig, placing themselves at risk with no concern for their
own safety.

         All three girls were extracted from the pit. The first two girls did not survive. The
third girl, Maranda Herandez age 12 spent a few days in the hospital and was then
released.

       The State of California takes great pride in presenting Officer Juan Mercado the
highest honor within its power to bestow upon one its employees: the Governor’s Medal
of Valor.


                           DENNIS M. BOREN (Oakhurst, CA)
                                   Battalion Chief

                California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection

       On August 20th, 2001, as the North Fork Fire rapidly spread through an area of 5
to 20 acre residential parcels, Battalion Chief Boren received word from an Air Tactical
Group Supervisor that a resident's escape route had been cut-off by fire and smoke.
Chief Boren advised the Air Tactical Group Supervisor of his intentions to attempt a
rescue and headed toward the residence.

        Driving through almost impossible conditions Chief Boren found the citizen in the
company of two neighbors who had come to assist her. He realized that he couldn't
transport all three citizens in his assigned pick-up, so he directed the trio to follow him in
their own vehicle. Although the journey back to safety was cloaked with billowing smoke
and blowing ash giving very little visibility, the residents did as they had been instructed
and Chief Boren was able to lead all three to safety.

       The State of California takes great pride in presenting to Battalion Chief Dennis
M. Boren, the highest honor within its power to bestow upon one of its employees: the
Governor’s Medal of Valor.

                             MIKE BRUNSON (Modesto, CA)
                                    Fire Captain

                California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection

         On September 10, 2001, California Department of Forestry Fire Captain Mike
Brunson was a part of an engine strike team. In route to their assignment, Captain
Brunson’s engine and the one he was following stopped to attack a spot fire. As the fire
activity was escalated, Captain Brunson recognized the danger signs, warned others
and began moving equipment to a secure area.

        Captain Brunson was ready to go back for his engine and the two engine crews
but the roadway was engulfed by fire. An attempt was made to take Captain Brunson
back to his engine in a dozer tender, but the operator decided that it was unsafe due to
the fuel in the back of his truck.

        Undaunted, Captain Brunson secured all of his personal protective equipment
and ran back down the hot and extremely smoky road to his engine. When he arrived at
the engine he found a captain and six firefighters in the cab with shelters deployed to
cover the windows. He opened the door on the driver side, got in the cab and drove the
engine to the safe area. Without Captain Brunson’s actions, lives could have been at
risk and substantial damage would have been sustained by the three CDF units

       The State of California takes great pride in presenting to
Fire Captain Mike Brunson, the highest honor within its power to bestow upon one of its
employees: the Governor’s Medal of Valor.


                                 MIKE CARR (Chico, CA)
                                      Fire Captain

                 California Department of Forestry & Fire Protection

        On September 6, 2001, California Department of Forestry, Fire Captain Mike
Carr, was advised by an engine crew that a resident that they believed was in danger
remained at a structure that was partially involved by fire. Fire Captain Carr drove to the
location of the home and spent several minutes convincing the citizen that he needed to
leave. The citizen agreed to leave but insisted on driving his own vehicle. Fire Captain
Carr felt there was little time left and told the citizen to follow him out.

        As they progressed, Fire Captain Carr made the decision to hold in place and to
allow the fire to burn down instead of attempting to drive through the poor visibility and
heavy fire. Suddenly Fire Captain Carr noticed the citizen was maneuvering his vehicle
in an attempt to get around his vehicle. Fire Captain Carr urged the citizen to stay put
but he ignored this direction and proceeded into heavy smoke and fire. Fire Captain
Carr opted to follow the citizen so he could affect another rescue if needed.

         Luck was on the side of the citizen and several minutes later he made it out of
harm’s way. However; if Fire Captain Carr had not gone back into the firestorm, to save
the life of the citizen, there is no doubt that the citizen would have stayed with his
residence and perished.

       The State of California takes great pride in presenting to Fire Captain Mike Carr
the highest honor within its power to bestow upon its employee: the Governor’s Medal
of Valor.


                             FELIPE GOMEZ (Fresno, CA)
                                    Fire Captain

                California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection

        On April 30, 2001, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Fire
Captain Felipe Gomez witnessed a vehicle accident involving a school bus and a utility
pickup.

         Fire Captain Gomez knew that a North Central Fire Station with paramedics was
located 300 feet west of the accident, and quickly preceded to the station to notify
firefighters of the situation. When Fire Captain Gomez returned to the scene of the
accident, the utility pickup was fully engulfed in flames which were impinging on the
driver's side of the bus, and he noticed the bus driver was still in the driver's seat.

        Fire Captain Gomez was unable to open the passenger door, but was able to
crawl through the door and enter the bus. Smoke and heat filled the upper portion of the
bus, and he had to stand up to lift the bus driver out of the seat and he placed her on the
floor. After he exited the bus by a different egress, he returned to pull her through the
opening of the passenger door. Fire Captain Gomez moved her to a safe area where he
stayed with her to keep her calm and maintain her airway until paramedics took over.
Soon after paramedics took over Fire Captain Gomez became physically ill, was placed
on oxygen and transported to the hospital and treated for smoke inhalation. The bus
driver suffered burns over 65% of her body, multiple broken bones and other injures and
unfortunately expired a few days after the accident.

       The State of California takes great pride in presenting to Fire Captain Gomez, the
highest honor within its power to bestow upon one of its employees: the Governor’s
Medal of Valor.
                               Jeff Hawkins (Oroville, CA)
                                      Fire Captain

                              Joe Saunders (Folsom, CA)
                                         and
                              Paul Carlos (Paradise, CA)
                                     Firefighters

                California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection


       On September 20th, 2000, while fighting an 800 acre fire near Oroville, Fire
Captain Hawkins with Firefighters Joe Saunders and Paul Carlos were checking two
residents. Captain Hawkins noticed the wind began to blow toward them, smoke was
blowing over their heads and he noticed a firebrand ignited in the star thistle about 100
feet ahead of Engine 72. The firefighters pulled a hose line, but the fire grew in intensity
and placed them all in danger. The main fire was rapidly burning toward some homes
and Captain Hawkins became concerned for the two residents as he felt they were
trapped.

         Fire Captain Sanford from Engine 71 protected one house and Captain Hawkins
from Engine 72 went to another to do the same. Soon, Fire Captain Hawkins realized
that the smoke and fire conditions were very serious around the residence. The wildfire
was rapidly approaching from the east driven by strong northeast wind. Without regard
for their own lives, the personnel of Engine 72 placed the residents into the engine and
drove them to a safe location through blinding smoke and flames which engulfed the
engine.

       The State of California takes great pride in presenting Fire Captain Jeff Hawkins
and Firefighters Joe Saunders and Paul Carlos the highest honor within its power to
bestow upon one of its employees: the Governor’s Medal of Valor.


                             TOM OLDAG (Carmichael, CA)
                                    Fire Captain

                        SEAN P. NORMAN (Grass Valley, CA)
                         JAMES F. MATHIAS (Auburn, CA)
                      BRANSON K. 'SKIP' RATSEP (Salinas, CA)

                         Fire Apparatus Engineer Paramedics

                California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection

       During a 17-hour period from 5:30 p.m. February 2, 1998 to 10:30 a.m. on
February 3, 1998, Captain Tom Oldag, Fire Apparatus Engineer Paramedics Sean
Norman, James Mathias, and Skip Ratsep, took part in the rescue of 16 citizens who
were trapped in the top story of a two story apartment complex.

       The rescue operation required that the victims be taken out with 200 feet of
rescue line, through a strong current, being careful to avoid floating objects. In addition
to rescuing stranded citizens from the apartment complex, the crew rescued numerous
citizens stranded in their vehicles and in town due to rising water. In all, the crew
transported an additional 15 citizens through floodwaters to safety. .

       The State of California takes great pride in presenting to Fire Captain Tom
Oldag, Fire Apparatus Engineer Paramedics Sean Norman, James Mathias, and
Branson 'Skip' Ratsep, the highest honor within its power to bestow upon one of its
employees: the Governor’s Medal of Valor.


                       JACQUES RODRIGUEZ (El Centro, CA)
                                    and
                       HERACLIO CARDENAS (El Centro, CA)

                                         Officers

                               California Highway Patrol


        On December 19, 2002, Officers Jacques Rodriguez and Heraclio Cardenas
responded to a broadcast of a house fire where they found Calexico Police Sergeant
Gonzalo Gerardo had been overcome by smoke. Sergeant Gerardo advised the CHP
officers that a male adult and female child were in the residence. Smoke was billowing
out of all sides of the residence and Officer Rodriguez climbed into the bedroom window
while Officer Cardenas illuminated the bedroom with his flashlight. Officer Rodriguez
made several attempts to pull the child from the bedroom but each time she fell from his
grasp and he was overcome by smoke, and he had to be pulled from the burning
residence. Fire Captain Art Navarro ultimately climbed into the bedroom with the
assistance of Officers Rodriguez and Cardenas and pulled the child to the window into
the arms of the CHP officers.

       The State of California takes great pride in presenting Officers Jacques
Rodriguez and Heraclio Cardenas the highest honor within its power to bestow upon one
its employees: the Governor’s Medal of Valor.



                            LYNNE BLUM (Torrence, CA)
                                    Sergeant
                                      and
                          TROY KING (Redondo Beach, CA)
                                     Officer

                               California Highway Patrol

        On August 22, 2002, California Highway Patrol Sergeant Lynne Blum, and
Officer Troy King, responded to a call for assistance at the scene of a traffic collision.
The driver was trapped inside his burning pick-up, which was wedged against the center
divider wall. The driver, who was initially unconscious, awoke disoriented and started to
panic as the fire began to enter through the fire wall around his feet. The Fire
Department had not yet arrived on the scene.
        Sergeant Blum and Officer King decided any further delay in responding to this
situation would likely result in the loss of the driver's life. The officers were unable to
extricate the driver from the passenger side and retreated from the pick-up truck. The
driver was still incoherent but becoming more aware he was starting to catch fire, and he
resisted efforts by the officers to free him. Sergeant Blum and Officer King continued to
work feverishly and were able to pull the driver to safety from the burning pick-up truck,
just as the passenger compartment became fully engulfed. The driver sustained major
injuries were transported to a local hospital.

       The State of California takes great pride in presenting to Sergeant Lynne Blum
and Officer Troy King the highest honor within its power to bestow upon its employees:
the Governor’s Medal of Valor.


                          BRIAN BROWN (Santa Clarita, CA)
                                    Officer

                               California Highway Patrol


      On January 24, 2003, Officer Brian Brown arrived at the scene of a traffic collision
which left one vehicle resting in the Los Angeles River wash basin with major damage
and in flames. Officer Brown climbed over a five foot chain link fence that was on top of
a ten foot concrete wall, lowered himself from the top of the concrete wall and then
jumped to the river bed. He found only one person inside, a male in his early twenties,
unconscious, bleeding profusely, and trapped inside of the passenger area of the
vehicle. Officer Brown placed his body inside of the vehicle and attempted to pull the
occupant out. Although momentarily overtaken by heat and smoke, Officer Brown made
several efforts to remove the passenger. Unfortunately, the fire and smoke became too
intense, forcing Officer Brown to discontinue his rescue efforts. The Los Angeles City
Fire Department finally arrived on scene, put out the fire, and cut the victim from the
vehicle. Unfortunately, on January 25, 2003, the victim expired.

       The State of California takes great pride in presenting Officer Brian Brown the
highest honor within its power to bestow upon one its employees: the Governor’s Medal
of Valor.

                         AARON GILLILAND (Henderson, NV)
                                     Officer

                               California Highway Patrol


        On June 19, 2002, California Highway Patrol Officer Aaron Gilliland witnessed a
vehicle pulling a travel trailer overturn. Officer Gilliland notified the Communications
Center and responded to the scene. At the scene, the vehicle was lying on its side with
the front end hanging precariously over an embankment, was on fire, and the occupants
were attempting to escape.
        Officer Gilliland ran toward the burning vehicle and assisted the driver, Mr.
Ortolani, to safety. He then began to assist the Mrs. Ortolani from the vehicle when the
fire entered the passenger compartment and moved toward them. Officer Gilliland
remained next to the vehicle continuing his rescue efforts by reaching into the burning
vehicle, and grasping her trapped leg to free her. Officer Gilliland then put his arms
around her torso and pulled her to safety.

       As Officer Gilliland pulled her from the burning vehicle, their momentum caused
them to fall down an embankment and within seconds the vehicle was completely
engulfed in flames. Officer Gilliland suffered smoke inhalation, sustained a broken back,
and was transported by ambulance for treatment of his injuries.

       The State of California takes great pride in presenting to Officer Aaron Gilliland
the highest honor within its power to bestow upon one of its employees: the Governor’s
Medal of Valor.


                            HENRY GUERRERO (Indio, CA)
                                     Officer

                               California Highway Patrol

        On July 3, 2002, 9-1-1 callers reported a vehicle had been driven into a canal.
California Highway Patrol Officer Henry Guerrero, along with other CHP officers and
allied agency personnel responded to the scene. The driver managed to get out of her
vehicle and was clinging to the top side of the automobile. As minutes passed waiting
for the Water Rescue Team, it became apparent to the officers that she was not going to
be able to continue holding on to her vehicle.

       Officer Guerrero made the decision to rescue her, tied himself to a rope, and
other CHP officers lowered him over the side of the bridge. Once at water level, Officer
Guerrero was able to grasp the driver and pull her from the vehicle.

      The driver was transported to a local hospital by paramedics suffering from
hypothermia. She was treated and later released.

       The State of California takes great pride in presenting to Officer Henry Guerrero
the highest honor within its power to bestow upon one of its employees: the Governor’s
Medal of Valor.


                        MELISSA HANDLEY (Long Beach, CA)
                                    Officer

                               California Highway Patrol

         On November 4, 2001, Officer Melissa Handley was dispatched to the scene of a
traffic collision. The driver had lost control of her vehicle and collided with a guardrail.
Her vehicle became disabled, blocked the road, and fluid from the vehicle spilled onto
the road creating an additional hazard.
         Officer Handley requested additional assistance to close the road, and she
activated the emergency lights on her patrol car to warn approaching traffic of the
impending hazard. As the driver walked toward the patrol car, she was talking on her
cellular phone, inattentive to oncoming traffic. At the same time, a pickup truck came
over the crest of the road at an excessive speed, and went into an uncontrolled skid as it
tried to avoid her vehicle. Realizing the driver was in danger; Officer Handley quickly
exited the patrol car and grabbed her, pulling her away from danger. The pickup truck
narrowly missed Officer Handley and the driver and collided with the open patrol car
door before slamming into the involved vehicle.

       The State of California takes great pride in presenting to Officer Melissa Handley
the highest honor within its power to bestow upon one of its employees: the Governor’s
Medal of Valor.


                           DONALD JORDAN (Weed, CA)
                                   Sergeant
                                     and
                     ERIC DEGRAFFENREID (Lake Shastina, CA)
                                    Officer

                               California Highway Patrol


        On January 28, 2003, Sergeant Donald Jordan and Officer Eric Degraffenreid
responded to a traffic collision. Upon arrival on scene, the employees encountered a
vehicle nearly engulfed in flames. The disoriented passenger had escaped the vehicle
and informed Sergeant Jordan and Officer Degraffenreid that his wife was trapped in the
burning vehicle.

        Both Sergeant Jordan and Officer Degraffenreid rushed to the burning vehicle.
As the flames spread throughout the engine and passenger compartment, the seriously
injured, and disoriented female victim could not free herself from the driver's seat. Both
employees struggled to free the occupant, exposing themselves to flames and
jeopardizing their safety. Just prior to the point when rescue would have been
impossible, the employees pulled the victim to safety. A moment later, the vehicle
exploded into flames.

       The State of California takes great pride in presenting Sergeant Donald Jordan
and Officer Eric Degraffenreid, the highest honor within its power to bestow upon one its
employees: the Governor’s Medal of Valor.
                        PETER KENSINGER (Lakewood, CA)
                                     and
                         PAUL YONEZAWA (Bellflower, CA)
                                   Officers

                               California Highway Patrol


        On November 10, 2001, Officers Peter Kensinger and Paul Yonezawa observed
two Los Angeles County Sheriff patrol cars collide in an intersection. The force of the
impact caused one of the patrol vehicles to strike an overhead light pole and concrete
wall, sustain extensive damage, and ignite a fire in the engine compartment.

        Officers Kensinger and Yonezawa found two Sheriff Deputies unconscious
inside the damaged patrol vehicle. Officer Yonezawa attempted to open the door on the
driver's side, but found it was jammed due to the collision. He retrieved the fire
extinguisher from his patrol vehicle and attempted to extinguish the fire, which was
growing in intensity and filling the patrol vehicle with smoke. Officer Yonezawa, fearing
for the deputy's life, reached through the window and pulled one deputy to safety.

        Officer Kensinger broke then broke the passenger window out with his flashlight,
pulling the second deputy to safety moments before the passenger compartment was
completely engulfed in flames.

      The State of California takes great pride in presenting Officers Peter Kensinger
and Paul Yonezawa the highest honor within its power to bestow upon one its
employees: the Governor’s Medal of Valor


                          JOHN MATTOX (Los Angeles, CA)
                                    Officer

                               California Highway Patrol


         On February 5, 2002, Officer John Mattox, while off duty, observed three male
individuals stalking two elderly females in Los Angeles. Officer Mattox realized these
gang members were seconds away from launching an assault and robbery. Officer
Mattox made the courageous decision to intervene. He called out a warning to the
ladies and deliberately directed the gang members' attention toward himself. The ladies
fled into the safety of their homes and called police.

       The enraged gang leader charged Officer Mattox, yelling threats and brandishing
a semi-automatic 9 mm handgun. Officer Mattox responded to this attack with gunfire;
wounding the suspect who then fled on foot. This gang member, along with an
accomplice was ultimately apprehended. The safety of the intended victims and the
apprehension of several violent gang members was a direct result of the courageous
actions of Officer Mattox.
       The State of California takes great pride in presenting Officer John Mattox the
highest honor within its power to bestow upon one its employees: the Governor’s Medal
of Valor.



                            RANDY NETHERY (Weed, CA)
                                    Sergeant

                               California Highway Patrol


               On December 4, 2002, Sergeant Randy Nethery was off duty when he
observed a vehicle being operated in an erratic manner. As he followed the vehicle, it
was apparent the driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Lacking a cellular
telephone, Sergeant Nethery followed the vehicle until the driver stopped in the parking
lot of the US Bank in Weed.

        Sergeant Nethery stopped his vehicle near the suspect and observed the
apparently inebriated driver retrieve a large handgun and conceal it into his waistband
and walk toward the bank entrance. Sergeant Nethery realizing the suspect was going
to commit an armed robbery armed himself with his off-duty weapon and followed the
suspect into the bank. Sergeant Nethery saw an opportunity to rush the suspect and
apprehend him. He ran toward the suspect without being noticed and wrestled him to
the ground and applied a control hold, immobilizing the suspect until the Weed Police
officers and other California Highway Patrol officers arrived from Mount Shasta.

       The State of California takes great pride in presenting Officer Randy Nethery the
highest honor within its power to bestow upon one its employees: the Governor’s Medal
of Valor.


                         STEPHAN NEUMANN (Ramona, CA)
                                   Sergeant

                               California Highway Patrol


        On March 2, 2002, Sergeant Stephan Neumann, who was off duty at the time,
came upon a vehicle accident. One of the vehicles involved had struck a tree, and then
a fire had ignited in the engine compartment. The occupant was unconscious and
trapped behind the steering wheel of his vehicle. Sergeant Neumann entered the rear of
the burning vehicle and attempted to extract the driver. Sergeant Neumann continued in
his efforts until driven from the vehicle by the fire, which had spread to the passenger
compartment and threatened to engulf the entire vehicle. In his efforts, Sergeant
Neumann received second degree burns. Although the driver was not able to be saved,
Sergeant Neumann exhibited great personal courage in his efforts to save the life of
another.
      The State of California takes great pride in presenting Sergeant Stephan
Neumann the highest honor within its power to bestow upon one its employees: the
Governor’s Medal of Valor




                         JACQUES RODRIGUEZ (El Centro)
                                     and
                         HERACLIO CARDENAS (El Centro)

                                        Officers

                              California Highway Patrol


        On December 19, 2002, Officers Jacques Rodriguez and Heraclio Cardenas
responded to a broadcast of a house fire where they found Calexico Police Sergeant
Gonzalo Gerardo had been overcome by smoke. Sergeant Gerardo advised the CHP
officers that a male adult and female child were in the residence. Smoke was billowing
out of all sides of the residence and Officer Rodriguez climbed into the bedroom window
while Officer Cardenas illuminated the bedroom with his flashlight. Officer Rodriguez
made several attempts to pull the child from the bedroom but each time she fell from his
grasp and he was overcome by smoke, and he had to be pulled from the burning
residence. Fire Captain Art Navarro climbed into the bedroom with the assistance of
Officers Rodriguez and Cardenas and pulled Ms. Ramirez to the window into the arms of
the CHP officers.

       The State of California takes great pride in presenting Officers Jacques
Rodriguez and Heraclio Cardenas the highest honor within its power to bestow upon one
its employees: the Governor’s Medal of Valor.


                         DANIEL SNOOK (Daniel Snook, CA)
                                   Sergeant
                                     and
                          MICHAEL TERRY (Antelope, CA)
                                    Officer

                              California Highway Patrol

        On September 10, 2001, California Highway Patrol Sergeant Daniel Snook
observed a slow-moving vehicle driven by Mr. Joseph Ferguson, who had already taken
the lives of five individuals in three different locations. Sergeant Snook advised fellow
Officers Martin Tapia, and Nick Salmeron of the suspect's location. The suspect
stopped his vehicle, stepped out, and began firing at Sergeant Snook and Officers Tapia
and Salmeron, who had just arrived on the scene. Officer Tapia was struck once from a
round fired by the suspect. Sergeant Snook continued to engage the suspect by
returning fire, thus protecting Officer Tapia and civilian bystanders in the area.
        Officers Michael Terry and Trevor Shields then arrived on scene and began to
exchange gunfire with the suspect. At this point, Officer Terry took the lead by
discharging 12 rounds from his weapon, as the suspect returned to his vehicle, while
continuing to shoot at the officers. Officer Terry continued to exchange direct gunfire
with the suspect diverting the suspect's attention from other law enforcement officers
and bystanders, allowing for the necessary rescues and evacuations to occur. The
suspect later re-entered his vehicle and ended his own life.

       The State of California takes great pride in presenting Sergeant Daniel Snook
and Officer Michael Terry the highest honor within its power to bestow upon its
employees: the Governor’s Medal of Valor.



                           KENNETH TYLER (Turlock, CA)
                                    Officer
                                     and
                           JAMES SHEERAN (Wallace, CA)
                                    Officer

                               California Highway Patrol


        On January 18, 2001, California Highway Patrol Officers Ken Tyler and James
Sheeran observed a vehicle pass them at a high rate of speed and then exit the freeway
in an attempt to avoid apprehension. The vehicle struck a signal box, rendering the
occupants unconscious, and igniting a fire in the vehicle’s trunk.

         Despite the vehicle fire and heavy smoke, both officers immediately ran to the
driver side to render assistance. Officer Tyler extricated the unconscious driver while
Officer Sheeran remained with the unconscious and trapped passenger. As the vehicle
filled with thick smoke and flames, both officers worked to move the passenger from the
right-front seat, across the driver compartment and out of the driver's door. Both officers
risked their safety and suffered smoke inhalation to perform this successful rescue.

       The State of California takes great pride in presenting Officers Ken Tyler and
James Sheeran the highest honor within its power to bestow upon one its employees:
the Governor’s Medal of Valor.
                            GARY RATLIFF (Victorville, CA)
                           Caltrans Landscape Leadworker
                                         and
                           TERRY GILLICH (Applevalley,CA)
                            Caltrans Equipment Operator II

                  California Department of Transportation (Caltrans)

         On July 7, 2001, the Victorville area was experiencing severe thunderstorms and
flash floods. California Department of Transportation employees Gary Ratliff and Terry
Gillich, and a private citizen, observed a pickup truck caught in floodwaters, overturned
onto its side.

        Two California Highway Patrol Officers, Officer David F. Bradford and Officer
Michael A. Kerr, then arrived on the scene. Mr. Gillich entered the water in his plow
truck to attempt a rescue, but the current was too strong, and the plow truck began
sliding sideways. The pickup truck was being pushed downstream by the current with a
young man screaming for help. All five rescuers jumped into the water.

        Holding onto the Caltrans vehicle, the men formed a human chain and helped
two of the pickup’s occupants to safety but two more people were still trapped in the
vehicle. As the water kept rising, the truck began to overturn onto its top.

       Breaking the chain, Mr. Gillich grabbed the grill to help stabilize the vehicle, while
Mr. Payne also breaking the chain, fought the current, reaching another occupant and
kept her from being swept downstream. All victims escaped serious injury. After
confirming everyone was safe, Mr. Gillich and Mr. Ratliff continued their storm patrol.

       The State of California takes great pride in presenting to Caltrans Equipment
Operator, Terry Gillich and Caltrans Landscape Leadworker Gary Ratliff, the highest
honor within its power to bestow upon one of its employees: the Governor’s Medal of
Valor.

								
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