FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 20, 2017
Kraig Troxell, Public Information Officer, 703-771-5278
Alex Kowalski, Public Information Officer, 703-777-0625
Loudoun County, VA- Twenty-eight Loudoun Sheriff’s Deputies were among those recognized Thursday at the 32nd Valor Awards ceremony held at the National Conference Center in Lansdowne, Virginia. This year’s awards saw the highest numbers of recipients recognizing the heroic actions of 107 individuals, including 20 citizens.
Three Loudoun County Sheriff’s Deputies received the Stu Plitman First Responders Community Service Award recognizing their commitment to fostering positive relationships with the Loudoun community in ways that enhance the safety and security of our citizens. The Award is given in honor of Stu Plitman, the former Chairman of the Valor Awards and founder of the Loudoun First Responders Foundation. Deputies Dawn Taylor, Milton Castelle and Victor LoPreto’s outstanding leadership and tireless efforts to address and raise awareness about the important issues within Loudoun’s communities, combined with their ambitions, intelligence and accomplishments are a true reflection of the Loudoun Sheriff’s Office and this award.
Nine Loudoun County Sheriff’s Deputies received the Lifesaving Award for their efforts in reviving individuals suffering an opioid overdose. In 2015, the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office created a pilot program issuing deputies nasal naloxone spray, a medication that reverses the effects of an opiate overdose to include heroin, oxycodone, and hydrocodone. The program was created in response to the increase in opiate overdoses nationwide. Deputies Erick Ambroise, James Gutshall, Ryan Hamilton, Jeffrey Bruggeman, Jeremy Long, James Lim, Eric Urbain, Patrick Keough and Ty Crane responded to ten separate incidents involving an unconscious non-breathing individual suffering a suspected opioid overdose. Their decisive and quick action by utilizing their issued naloxone spray saved a total of ten lives.
Also receiving a Lifesaving Award was Deputy Colin Whittington who was recognized for two separate lifesaving efforts. On June 19, he responded to assist fire and rescue crews with an unconscious person near Cardinal Glen Circle in Sterling. Deputy Whittington arrived at the home first, where he discovered a man lying on the kitchen floor. He quickly checked for a pulse but found none. Deputy Whittington initiated CPR, doing chest compressions and rescue breaths as he was trained. His efforts are the reason why this gentleman regained a pulse and was later transported to the hospital by ambulance. It was exactly six months later when Deputy Whittington responded to a call from a Chantilly home concerning a year-old infant who had stopped breathing. Deputy Whittington again arrived first and started to perform CPR. The child was resuscitated and was transported first to a local hospital then a Children’s Hospital where the pulse and breathing were maintained. Sadly, this child passed away several days later. Yet Deputy Whittington’s sound thinking and effective efforts provided the family several precious days to say goodbye.
DFC Casey Johnson and Sgt. Justin Mass received a Lifesaving Award for their efforts on June 12, 2016 in responding to a teenaged autistic male who was making suicidal statements. The juvenile was acting disorderly, breaking glass and furniture inside a home. When units arrived the juvenile was holding a knife to his throat and threatening suicide. DFC Casey Johnson along with other units secured the residence and set up a perimeter in order to keep the juvenile from moving around. DFC Johnson established contact with the juvenile who would switch from crying to a screaming rage. Because of the location, stature of the teen, and the knife pressing against his throat, DFC Johnson spoke to the juvenile using empathy, compassion and Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) and got the male to put the knife down. Once the knife removed, the juvenile’s neck had visible injuries from the knife. Sgt. Justin Maas took over the conversation with the juvenile. The teen was still agitated and emotional with the knife lying beside him. After speaking with the juvenile for an hour and half the juvenile gave up and he was taken into custody and was provided with additional help from Loudoun Department of Mental Health. Both deputies displayed exceptional patience, compassion and empathy during the situation. Working as a team, the juvenile was prompted to listen, trust the deputies and eventually accept their offer of mental health support. Throughout the situation both deputies remained calm and kept the situation under control which led to the saving of the juvenile’s life.
Sgt. Paul Medonich, DFC Adrian Smith and DFC Dustin Woomer received a Lifesaving Award for their efforts in helping an inmate at the Loudoun County Adult Detention Center who attempted to commit suicide on December 27, 2015. The inmate struggled with the deputies, resisting their efforts to stop her from further injury. The combined efforts of these deputies resulted in saving the life of a suicidal person.
Sgt. Zane Freeman, DFC Elvin Bermudez, DFC William Harris, DFC Pam Hart, and DFC Donald Wilhelm received a Lifesaving Award for their efforts in helping an inmate on October 19, 2016, who was attempting to harm himself. During a routine check at the Adult Detention Center, Sgt. Zane Freeman noticed that the inmate was attempting to harm himself and he alerted the staff of the inmate’s actions. Deputy First Class Elvin Bermudez, Deputy Pamela Hart, Deputy William Harris and Deputy Donald Wilhelm responded to the cell. The inmate did not comply with the deputies’ commands and was displaying aggressive behavior and attempted to run out of cell. Deputy Wilhelm was able to safely prevent the inmate from charging out of the cell and secured the door without unnecessary force. Thanks to the hard work and quick response of the Adult Detention Center deputies, this inmate was unsuccessful in his attempt to take his own life.
On December 14, at Stone Bridge High School, Loudoun County Public School Security Officer Amy Ressler was conducting her security rounds through the school property. SSO Ressler entered a storage area behind the school main gymnasium and to her surprise, found a young male who had hung himself. SSO Ressler was not able to free the child on her own, and she summoned School Resource Officer Ritchy Fowler. SRO Fowler called for additional patrol assistance and went to the gymnasium storage area to assist SSO Ressler. Deputy Micha Torres arrived at the school to help SRO Fowler and SSO Ressler free the young man. Deputy Jeremy Krapfl and Deputy John Snow arrived soon after. Deputies Fowler, Torres and Snow held the boy, supporting his neck and back, while Deputy Krapfl cut him free. Deputy Krapfl and Deputy Torres started CPR until medics from Loudoun Fire and Rescue arrived. Medics took over CPR and eventually transported the boy to hospital. He was then transferred to Inova Fairfax Trauma Center. Hospital staff placed the young man on life support, where he remained in critical condition for several days prior to passing away. The seamless teamwork and critical life-saving measures of the deputies and the school security enabled the family time to be with their son before he passed away.
DFC Ryan Hamilton received a Bronze Medal of Valor for a joint effort in assisting the Purcellville Police Department on April 4, 2016, with a domestic dispute between a father and son. Deputy Hamilton responded to incident and arrived simultaneously with Corporal Paul Kakol. Deputy Hamilton was carrying his medical trauma kit. Corporal Kakol and Deputy Hamilton came in contact with the caller, a very distraught young woman. Frantically, she advised them that her father was badly hurt and laying on the kitchen floor and the suspect was still in the home. Both Corporal Kakol and Deputy Hamilton rendered first aid to the victim who was covered in a large amount of blood. Deputy Hamilton and Corporal Kakol found the victim to have severe stab wounds to the neck and abdomen. The victim also suffered from burn marks. Deputy Hamilton provided Corporal Kakol with wound bandaging material to pack the neck wounds and to apply pressure. Pressure was then applied to the abdominal wounds and the victim was stabilized and prepared for transport by the rescue team when they arrived. As the rescue team conducted their work, the officers and deputies secured the scene for the safety of the victim, witness and paramedics. Sergeant Wagner coordinated a methodical search of the home. Immediately upon discovering the suspect had fled the home, Sergeant Wagner broadcast a lookout over the radio. All area units were looking for a highly emotional teenage male, armed with a knife. Off-duty Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office Deputy, Chris Loftis, was returning home to Purcellville in his marked cruiser. Being diligent in his duties, he had turned his radio frequency from a Fairfax County radio channel to a Loudoun County radio channel and heard the broadcast. He located the suspect, where he challenged him, took him into custody without incident, and immediately advised officers over the radio of his location. The suspect was turned over to the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office. The teamwork and coordination exhibited by the officers and deputies demonstrated a high level of professionalism, ingenuity and bravery.
Four members of Loudoun County Fire-Rescue and three civilians were recognized for their efforts in assisting a Loudoun County Sheriff’s Deputy with a disorderly subject. On September 8, Deputy First Class Victor LoPreto was dispatched for a motor vehicle crash in Leesburg, near the intersection of James Monroe Highway and Lovettsville Road. When he arrived he observed three citizens, Wanda and Joe Flack along with Mark Jagoe assisting the driver of a vehicle which had run off the road and struck a tree. As they were assisting the driver up a steep hill, the driver passed out and fell to the ground. The driver quickly regained consciousness and was able to get up on his own and attempted to leave the area. When he rose to his feet, the driver had a folding knife in his right front pants pocket which the Deputy attempted to remove but the driver became combative. He pushed the Deputy’s hand away, grabbing the knife. He walked a few steps away from the citizens, firefighters and the Deputy and suddenly turned around, facing the group. He took a fighting stance and held out the unopened knife. As a group, they were able to separate themselves from the driver until he eventually complied with the Deputy’s commands to drop the knife. Because of outstanding warrants, Deputy LoPreto approached the driver to begin the handcuffing process, but the man became combative once again and began to resist arrest. During the course of the incident, the suspect fell on top of the deputy, pinning him to the ground. Two of the firefighters, along with Joe and Wanda Flack, then went to the ground and began to physically restrain the driver. This allowed the Deputy to crawl out from underneath the man, free himself and regain control of the situation. With the assistance of this group, the Deputy was able to secure the driver safely into handcuffs prior to the arrival of other law enforcement resources.
Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman and members of the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office leadership team and command staff attended the awards ceremony “The men and women recognized today showed extraordinary selflessness in their actions by going above and beyond to help save the lives of others,” said Sheriff Chapman.
The Loudoun County Valor Awards program awards were established by the Loudoun Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with the local public safety agencies, to recognize and acknowledge members of the various public safety departments, as well as everyday citizens, who have placed themselves in harm's way over the past year to ensure the safety of others.
Also recognized at the event were members of the Town of Leesburg Police Department and a total of twenty citizens.
The featured Master of Ceremonies at this year’s awards ceremony were ABC 7/WJLA-TV News anchors Autria Godfrey and Larry Smith.