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Medal of Valor Past Honorees

California Highway Patrol Medal of Valor

Bravery, courage and gallantry - these qualities enable a person to remain steadfast in the face of danger or adversity. These characteristics typify this year's Highway Patrol recipients of the Governor's Medal of Valor awards. The highest honor bestowed upon a state employee, the Medal of Valor puts these men and women in a class by themselves.

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They have gone above and beyond the normal call of duty with no regard for their own personal safety to perform feats of courage, and that is how heroism is defined. They have put their own lives on the line in order to save, or help save, another life. No one could ask more of them, and no award ceremony, however distinguished, could ever be thanks enough.

Officers Benjamin Glapenske & Kelly Valdez

Benjamin Glapenske     Kelly Valdez
On March 3, 2008, California Highway Patrol Officer Benjamin Glapenske and Officer Kelly Valdez performed an act of heroism at great risk to their safety rescuing two semi-unconscious occupants from a burning vehicle.

At approximately 11:49 p.m., Officers Glapenske and Valdez were northbound on State Route 99, south of State Route 46, when they observed a vehicle fire, resting on the railroad tracks east of the freeway. Officer Valdez advised Bakersfield Communications Center of the vehicle fire and requested the fire department to respond. They observed two occupants moving about inside the burning vehicle. Officer Glapenske retrieved a fire extinguisher while Officer Valdez secured a medical supply bag. Officer Glapenske attempted to extinguish the flames, but was unsuccessful due to an equipment malfunction.

They opened the right rear passenger door and observed one occupant reaching towards them from the driver seat. They reached into the burning vehicle, grabbed the driver’s arms and removed him to safety. Officers Glapenske and Valdez now observed the flames had advanced towards the second occupant and the headliner of the vehicle. As they returned to the vehicle, placing themselves in jeopardy of being burned once again, they began experiencing difficulty breathing due to smoke inhalation. They reached back into the burning vehicle, grabbed Mr. Chavez’s arms and removed him to safety. As Officers Glapenske and Valdez assessed the occupants’ medical condition, small explosions began occurring from the vehicle.

Upon arrival of the fire department, Mr. Betancourt and Mr. Chavez were medically treated and transported to Kern Medical Center in Bakersfield for evaluation where it was discovered that Mr. Chavez’s life threatening injuries required him to be flown to the Fresno Burn Center for further treatment.

Officer Lawrence Colby

Lawrence Colby

On December 4, 2007, California Highway Patrol Officer Lawrence Colby performed an act of heroism at risk to his personal safety when he saved the life of a female juvenile attempting to jump to her death from the outside ledge of a freeway transition bridge 75 to 100 feet above another freeway.

Officer Colby was assisting other California Highway Patrolmen and members of the San Bernardino Police Department with a female juvenile attempting to jump from the transition road from eastbound Interstate 10 to northbound Interstate 215, in the city of Colton. The young female jumper made statements she didn’t want to live any more, and on numerous occasions she would release one of her hands from the bridge rail and one of her feet from the narrow ledge she was standing on and arch backwards away from the bridge.

It was clear to Officer Colby that the female would most likely jump to her death if no intervention was attempted. With that in mind, Officer Colby then decided to position himself on the blind side of the female while other officers continued to negotiate with her. After approximately 50 minutes of negotiations, the female decided once again to lean backwards from the ledge with only her finger tips of one hand holding onto the bridge rail and one foot still on the ledge.

At this time, Officer Colby lunged forward over the bridge railing and “bear hugged” the female to prevent her from jumping. While pulling her back on top of the transition road, she was detained and then released to San Bernardino Police Department for their investigation. The quick action of Officer Colby without regard for his own safety prevented the death or serious injury of the female.

Officer Gary Dana

Gary Dana

On November 11, 2007, California Highway Patrol Officer Gary Dana performed an act of heroism at great risk to his personal safety by preventing a suicidal female from jumping to her death from a freeway bridge structure.

At approximately 11:28 a.m., Officer Elrod began pursuing a 1998 Toyota Rav 4 on Interstate 280, north of State Route 92. The female driver quickly stopped near the middle of the Doran Bridge and quickly exited her vehicle. The female stepped over the three foot concrete bridge rail and placed her buttocks on the narrow rail, threatening to jump off the approximate 540 foot tall bridge structure. Officer Elrod stopped his patrol vehicle in front of the Toyota and began giving verbal commands for the female to get off the bridge rail.

Officer Dana overheard the pursuit on the radio and began responding to the Doran Bridge to assist. Upon arrival, Officer Dana parked his motorcycle behind the Toyota and was not noticed by the suicidal female. While Officer Elrod continued to give verbal commands to the female and distract her attention, Officer Dana approached the female from the rear. Suddenly, just as the female began to slip off of the rail and without any hesitation or due regard for his own safety, Officer Dana leaped out to the rail, wrapped both arms around the female’s chest area and pulled her back onto the roadway. A short struggle on the roadway ensued to get the resistant female into custody. After the incident, Officer Dana complained of pain in his back and received abrasions on both knees as a result of the struggle. The female was subsequently transported to the San Mateo County General Hospital for 72-hour observation.

Officers Kelley Walker & Aaron Taylor

Officer  Kelley Walker     Officer  Aaron Taylor

On November 3, 2007, California Highway Patrol Officer Kelley Walker and Officer Aaron Taylor performed an act of heroism at great risk to their personal safety rescuing a victim from a burning overturned vehicle. At approximately 1:30 a.m., Officer Walker and Officer Taylor monitored a broadcast of an injury collision on westbound State Route 178. When they arrived at the scene of the collision they observed an overturned vehicle on fire with two citizens attempting to rescue a trapped occupant.

The intensity of the heat forced the citizens away from the vehicle. Officers Walker and Taylor approached the fire engulfed vehicle and grabbed a hold of the occupant’s legs and dragged him out and away from the vehicle. Once away from the vehicle, multiple small explosions began to fully engulf the overturned vehicle. While removing the victim, Officer Walker and Officer Taylor observed the occupant’s head, right arm, and torso were on fire. One of the citizens attempted to extinguish the flames with a shirt which Officer Walker subsequently used to smother the fire.

The driver’s body suddenly reignited and Officer Walker used bottled water to completely put out the flames. Officers Walker and Taylor then began to triage the driver’s burns as well as provide first aid for the other occupants of the vehicle who had been thrown out of the vehicle during the roll-over collision.

Officer Michael Ticknor

Michael Ticknor On July 31, 2007, California Highway Patrol Officer Michael Ticknor performed an act of heroism at great risk to his own personal safety when he rescued an injured and trapped construction worker from underneath an unstable pile of bridge supports and provided first aid to a second injured person inside a Fed Ex truck smashed between two 3,000 pound steel bridge supports.

Officer Michael Ticknor, ID #10775, was northbound State Route (SR) SR 70 at Garden Grove Drive when he received a call from Chico Communication Center of a total bridge collapse on SR 149, west of SR 70. Officer Ticknor was the first to arrive at the scene of the incident and observed an injured worker at the site of the bridge construction, buried precariously under debris from the collapsed structure. He also observed a Fed-Ex delivery truck crushed between two massive 3,000 pound steel beams with the driver trapped inside the vehicle.

Officer Ticknor, without regard for his safety and knowing the instability of the remaining erect bridge structure, crawled into the pile of fallen debris to assess the construction worker’s condition. The construction worker had suffered a broken elbow, pelvis, and leg as a result of the fall. Officer Ticknor decided to move the injured construction worker to a location of safety due to the volatility of the remaining supports. Once Officer Ticknor secured the construction worker, he then made contact with the occupant inside the crushed Fed-Ex truck. After assessing the driver’s injuries and determining he couldn’t be moved from the vehicle he reassured the driver that emergency medical assistance was on their way. Officer Ticknor’s actions demonstrated commitment and bravery deserving recognition. In each rescue attempt he placed his own life in peril to save the life of another.

Officer Jack BorneSergeant Jeffrey BairdSergeant Mark McCormack
Officer Byron JobeOfficer  Stephen HunsakerOfficer Jesse Borne
Officer  Jeffrey NouschOfficer  Roberta Record

On July 26, 2007, California Highway Patrol Sergeants Jeffrey Baird and Mark McCormack along with Officers Jack Borne, Jesse Borne, Stephen Hunsaker, Byron Jobe, Jeffrey Nousch and Roberta Record combined efforts and performed an act of heroism at great risk to their own safety to rescue four critically injured victims of a large nitrous oxide tank explosion at the Mojave Air and Space Port.

At approximately 2:30 p.m., employees of Scaled Composites at the Mojave Air and Space Port were working near two large tanks of nitrous oxide. One tank was a carbon fiber tank containing 9,000 lbs. of nitrous oxide which exploded. The aforementioned CHP personnel responded to the scene. A 10,000 lb. nitrous oxide tank was damaged as a result of the initial explosion and was leaking its contents approximately 40 – 50 feet from the victims, which posed a respiratory hazard to the injured victims and rescuers. Particles from the initial tank blast also posed a significant hazard as well.

Due to the seriousness of the injured victims, first responders could not wait for a hazardous material team to arrive, so CHP personnel entered the area and rendered aid to the victims. It was determined the 10,000 lb. nitrous oxide tank that was leaking posed a significant threat and a secondary explosion was possible. CHP personnel stayed at the scene, assisted in placing the victims onto backboards and carried them to a triage area outside the initial blast area. CHP personnel continued to stay in close proximity to the hazardous environment to assist with the stabilization of the victims. After all victims were evacuated, approximately one hour after the explosion, CHP personnel evacuated the scene to the safe zone.

The actions of the aforementioned CHP personnel are commended for their extreme act of heroism which extended far above and beyond the normal call of duty and performed at great personal risk to save human lives.

Officer Corben Whitney

On July 13, 2007, Officer Corben Whitney, while off-duty, rescued three passengers from a burning vehicle. Officer Whitney witnessed a vehicle collision which caused a van to immediately burst into flames. He quickly removed an adult and adolescent passenger from the vehicle when he heard the cries of an additional passenger. Officer Whitney returned to the van and located a four year old boy fastened in a car seat in the rear of the vehicle with flames all around him. Officer Whitney reached through the flames and grabbed the boy's shirt which ripped away. He then grabbed the boy's leg and tried to pull him free. Officer Whitney was forced away from the van by the heat and smoke. On his final effort he grabbed the boy's leg with both hands and pulled until the straps on the seat gave way, allowing Officer Whitney to pull the severely burned child from the vehicle. As a result of Officer Whitney's brave determination, young Edgar Flores survived the incident.

Officer Brian Elledge

On December 2, 2006, Officer Brian Elledge, while on-duty, pulled the delirious victim from a flaming vehicle involved in a collision. Officer Elledge and his partner encountered a vehicle collision with the driver trapped inside. Officer Elledge was forced to break the driver side window and lean into the smoke-filled car in order to pull the confused driver out before being seriously burned. During the extrication of the driver, Officer Elledge's jacket caught fire. Roberto Montoya would have certainly been seriously injured or killed if not for Officer Elledge's efforts.

Officer Brian Scott Bushey

Officer Brian Scott Bushey

On November 3, 2006, Officer Brian Scott Bushey, while on-duty, provided comfort and aid to the trapped victim of a vehicle collision which slid off the road and overturned onto its left side in a near freezing creek. Officer Bushey crawled into the precariously placed vehicle where he stood in waist deep icy water for nearly 45 minutes to assist the trapped driver in keeping her head above water while the fire department extricated her. Officer Bushey is credited with saving Leticia Hansen's life.

Officer Jude Donahue

Officer Jude Donahue On August 26, 2006, Officer Jude Donahue, while on-duty, courageously attempted to rescue the occupant of a burning motor home. Officer Donahue encountered a motor home which was on fire and with the aid of two Los Angeles police officers, he entered the smoke-filled vehicle and located the occupant. His first attempt was cut short by the intense flames, forcing Officer Donahue to retreat. He entered the motor home a second time and tried again to remove the victim from the burning, smoking vehicle. Due to the intense heat and thick smoke, Officer Donahue was forced out of the motor home without the occupant. Officer Donahue's efforts to rescue Ewell Washington, although unsuccessful, were heroic.

Officer Brent Weese

Officer Brent Weese

On July 3, 2006, Officer Brent Weese, while on-duty, rescued the victim of a vehicle collision where the vehicle overturned off the roadway, slid down a steep embankment, and burst into flames. The vehicle fire ignited the dry grass and shrubs in the canyon making the escape of the asthmatic victim nearly impossible. Officer Weese made his way down the steep embankment to the victim and as a result of the injured and frightened condition of the victim, he needed to assist her away from the fire and up the steep canyon wall. Officer Weese is credited with saving the life of Rebecca Malamma.

Officer Jeff Tempest

Officer Jeff Tempest

On March 18, 2006, California Highway Patrol (CHP) Officer Jeff Tempest performed an act of heroism at great risk to his personal safety by rescuing a suicidal subject from serious injury or death by jumping from a freeway over crossing. Officer Tempest was on-duty in the Redding Area when a person straddling the bridge rail of State Route 151 over the lanes of Interstate 5 (I-5).

The upset subject tossed his cell phone to Officer Tempest and told him to tell his girl friend “sorry she couldn’t be with him” . The subject then slid over the outside edge of the over crossing hanging over the lanes of I-5 with his hands clasping the metal rail and ordered Officer Tempest to back away as he began to count to ten. Officer Tempest began to inch toward the dangling subject as he threatened to let go if Officer Tempest did not back away.

\The distraught subject released one hand from the bridge railing at the count of five. As he reached the count of ten, Officer Tempest lunged forward over the bridge rail and grabbed hold of the subject under his shoulder with one hand. With the other hand, Officer Tempest grabbed the subject’s belt. This strategy placed Officer Tempest’s upper body hanging dangerously outside the edge of the over crossing anchored only by his legs and the bridge rail.

The subject then released his remaining hand from the bridge railing, forcing Officer Tempest to support all his 185 pound weight. Officer Tempest managed to hoist the subject to safety and place him in protective custody.

Sergeant Erik Quisenberry

On April 12, 2005, Sergeant Erik Quisenberry, while off-duty, was instrumental in rescuing a Costco employee from a knife wielding thief. While shopping at Costco, Sergeant Quisenberry heard an unusual sound coming from the offices at the front of the store. Upon investigating, he encountered a man threatening a female employee at knife point. Sergeant Quisenberry first took control of the man's knife hand and removed the weapon. He then forced the subject to the floor and, with the aid of two Costco employees, held him until police arrived. Sergeant Quisenberry's quick response helped Save Jessica Rikkelman's life.

Officer Peter Sutherland Officer Timothy Hall Officer Duane Greaver

On June 8, 2005, Officer Duane Greaver, Officer Timothy Hall, and Officer Peter Sutherland combined their efforts to extricate an obstinate subject from a burning vehicle. Officer Hall initially attempted to stop the driver of thevehicle for unsafe driving. As a result of his failure to yield, the subject vehicle was involved in a collision which soon rendered the vehicle in-operable. After the vehicle stopped, Officers Greaver and Sutherland arrived to aid Officer Hall. While instructing the driver to exit the vehicle it ignited in flames forcing the three officers to approach the burning vehicle and pull the combative driver out. Officers Greaver, Hall, and Sutherland risked their own safety and rescued David Kwan from his burning vehicle.
Past Honorees...