Local man receives medal of valor
The Special Act or Gold Medal honors an extraordinary act of heroism by a state employee extending far above and beyond the normal call of duty or service performed at great risk to his or her own life in an effort to save human life.
At 8:50 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 28, Bonnie L. Hull, 58, of Susanville, Calif., was driving her 2003 Honda Pilot eastbound on Riverside Drive between the Sierra Pacific Mill entrance and South Fairfield Avenue.
She safely drove through a curve at 20 mph and then on the straight roadway, she lost control of her car. The car spun out of control traveling to the north shoulder and down an embankment toward the Susan River.
The car overturned as it came down the hillside. It slid down to the bottom of the hill and into the river on its roof. Hull was trapped inside the car by the water and her seatbelt. Ayers, a CAL FIRE employee, was not on duty, but he said he did not hesitate sliding down the hillside and wading in the freezing water to reach Hull.
Hull said she was not injured. She was evaluated by an ambulance crew and left the scene of the collision with her husband. Hull is a physician’s assistant and after changing clothes, she went to work. She said she could not let her patients down.
Ayers was also treated at the scene.
Ayers was one of 42 people to receive the governor’s honor.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today awarded the Governor’s Medal of Valor, the highest honor that California bestows on its public servants, to 42 state employees who demonstrated extraordinary acts of bravery and heroism to save the life of another.
“The men and women who devote their professional lives to serve California and its citizens often do so under very challenging circumstances,” said Schwarzenegger. “Many individuals recognized today have shown the kind of courage and bravery that has always marked their professions, but some are employees who aren’t accustomed to hazardous duty on the job. The heroic acts of these individuals clearly show that when faced with adversity, they’re ready to respond regardless of the personal risks. I am extremely proud and honored to present these medals today.”
The highest honor the state bestows upon its employees, the Governor’s Medal of Valor is awarded to individuals who have performed an extraordinary act of heroism above and beyond the call of duty to save the life of another person, or have risked their own life to save another. The program was established in 1959. Nominations are submitted by state departments and agencies to the Department of Personnel Administration, which administers the program.
There are two types of awards: Special Act or Gold Medal is an extraordinary act of heroism by a state employee extending far above and beyond the normal call of duty or service performed at great risk to his or her own life in an effort to save human life; and, Special Service or Silver Medal is an act of heroism by a state employee extending above and beyond the normal call of duty or service performed at personal risk to his or her safety to save human life or property.
The employees receiving today’s award represent the following six departments:
Department of Fish and Game
Josh Brennan, of Rancho Cordova, Silver Award: On July 23, 2007, went through extraordinary efforts to rescue an intoxicated man from the bottom of a canyon.
Mary Elizabeth Gregory, of Rancho Cordova, Gold Award: On May 29, 2004, rescued a drowning teen from an ocean lagoon.
Wilbur Dwight Brown, Jr., of Porterville, Gold Award: On June 18, 2008, captured and subdued an armed burglary suspect.
John Guhl, of Sacramento, Silver Award: On May 18, 2008, stopped a disoriented, male driver from injuring himself and others with his vehicle.
Wesley D. Grim, of Visalia, Gold Award: On May 31, 2007, attempted to rescue an infant from a burning home.
Carl Schwettmann, Jr., of El Cajon, Gold Award: On October 21, 2007, rescued a missing firefighter during the Harris Fire.
Eric R. Ayers, of Susanville, Gold Award: On December 28, 2007, rescued a woman from drowning when her car landed upside down in a river.
James F. Allen and Franklin T. Johnson, of Mariposa, Gold Award: On Feb. 2, 2008, rescued a young boy from a burning mobile home.
Corey Call, of St. Helena, Gold Award: On May 13, 2008, attempted to rescue a woman from a burning vehicle.
Franchise Tax Board
Jeffrey F. Madeira, of Rancho Cordova, Silver Award: On Jan. 6, 2008, rescued a woman and her dog from an aggressive dog attack.
California Highway Patrol
Jeff Tempest, of Redding, Gold Award: On March 18, 2006, prevented a suicidal man from jumping off a bridge.
Jeffrey Baird, Mark McCormack, Jack Borne, Jesse Borne, Stephen Hunsaker, Byron Jobe, Jeffrey Nousch and Roberta Record, of Mojave, Gold Award: On July 26, 2007, rescued employees of the Mojave Air and Space Port following a hazardous tank explosion.
Michael A. Ticknor, of Oroville, Gold Award: On July 31, 2007, rescued two victims trapped under debris from a collapsed bridge.
Aaron Taylor and Kelley Walker, of Bakersfield, Gold Award: On November 3, 2007, rescued a man from a burning vehicle and administered first aid.
Gary Dana, of San Luis Obispo, Gold Award: On November 11, 2007, prevented a suicidal woman from jumping off a bridge.
Lawrence Colby, of Beaumont, Gold Award: On December 4, 2007, prevented a suicidal woman from jumping off a bridge.
Benjamin Adam Glapenske and Kelly Andrew Valdez, of Bakersfield, Gold Award: On March 3, 2008, rescued two men from a burning vehicle.
Department of Motor Vehicles
Christopher K. Wagner, of Fresno, Silver Award: On January 29, 2008, saved the life of a CHP officer by shooting an armed suspect.
Department of Transportation
Arturo Arzaga and Eric L. Perkins, of Riverside, Silver Award: On February 25, 2007, rescued a trapped highway-cleaning crewmember from an overturned van.
Dave McDaniel, Michael Blake, John W. Kearns Jr., Leonard Marsh, Scot McKinney and Kyle Robert Gaspard of Pine Grove, Silver Award: On August 9, 2007, saved lives and property by containing a wildfire.
Alan L. Companey and Shawn Daniel Hussey, of Oakland, Silver Award: On June 18, 2008, helped to rescue a suicidal man from jumping off a bridge.
Brett A. Gronemeyer and Brandon Dean Larsen, of Eureka, Silver Award: On August 7, 2008, helped rescue an injured female motorcyclist from a steep mountainside.
Robert L. Immoos, of Soda Springs, Gold Award: On April 8, 2008, intercepted a disoriented, wrong-way driver from a possible head-on collision, injury and death.
Gregory A. Linden, of San Jose, Gold Award: On June 14, 2008, saved a coworker’s life by pushing aside a falling 300-pound pole.
Since the Medal of Valor program began in 1959, more than 400 medals have been awarded to California state employees.
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