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VACP/VPCF Recognize Nineteen Virginia Officers with the 2013 Lifesaving Awards

August 27, 2013 | VACP

Nineteen Virginia police officers are the recipients of the 2013 Lifesaving Awards presented by the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police (VACP) and the Virginia Police Chiefs Foundation (VPCF.) The awards were announced August 27 at the VACP/VPCF Annual Conference in Williamsburg, Virginia, and will be awarded at a later date at ceremonies at the officers’ agencies.

The Lifesaving Award recognizes an officer’s actions that put the officer in harm’s way in an attempt to save the live of another individual.

The 2013 VACP/VPCF Lifesaving Award recipients are as follows:

Chesterfield County Police Department
Officer Jessica L. Fiden
Officer Shawn V. Beach
Officer Jennifer M. Vittum
Officer Andrew R. Parsley

On Dec. 30, 2012, Officers Jessica Fiden, Shawn Beach, Jennifer Vittum and Andrew Parsley were dispatched to a vehicle crash with injuries. Officers were advised that the car was occupied with victim(s) and that flames were coming from the vehicle. While on scene, it was discovered the male driver was trapped, but still conscious.  While Officer Parsley battled the flames, Officer Beach went to assist the driver, but was unable to remove the victim from the vehicle. While the vehicle was still on fire, Officer Fiden stayed in the vehicle with the victim and  calmed him to prevent further movement and injury. Officers Parsley and Vittum fought the fire until firefighters arrived to fully extinguish the flames and successfully extricate the victim. Fire officials credit the actions performed by all of the officers in saving the victim's life during rapidly deteriorating conditions.

Falls Church Police Department
Corporal Justin Cuomo
Master Police Officer Marcus Bristol

On June 25, Falls Church officers reported to a call that a man had doused himself with gasoline and threatened to set himself and the house on fire. Officers on the scene could smell an overwhelming odor of gasoline in and around the house. The sister of the subject was standing outside the house, frantically reporting that her elderly father was in the basement and that he was frail and unable to assist himself.
While another officer engaged the subject in conversation, MPO Markus Bristol and Corporal Justin Cuomo entered the house at great personal risk to rescue the invalid father.  With cover from assisting officers, MPO Bristol and Corporal Cuomo knew they were confronted with negotiating a very frail, yet large 95 year old male up five steep, narrow basement stairs and around the side of a house situated on a slight hill, to a place of safety under extremely dangerous conditions.

The visual sight of the rescue was inspiring and heroic as the officers attentively and valiantly handled the frail victim under the extreme conditions of active gunfire, while they ensured his safety with a ballistic shield and their bodies.  MPO Bristol and Corporal Cuomo could not have performed this dangerous rescue without the support and cover of the many officers who responded to the scene, and are awarded the 2013 VACP/VPCF Lifesaving Award.

Hanover County Sheriff’s Office
Deputy Jason Bonifacio
Deputy Christopher Clarke
Deputy Thomas Hauck
Deputy Steven Newsome

On February 21, 2013, at approximately 0302 hours the Hanover County Sheriff's Deputies Bonifacio, Hauck, Clarke, and Newsome responded to a house fire in the eastern part of the county. Deputy Bonifacio made entry into the burning house by breaking the rear sliding glass door. He navigated through thick smoke and located an 11-year-old male lying face down unconscious but breathing. Deputy Bonifacio pulled the victim out of the bedroom and gave him to Deputy Hauck who took the child outside the house. Deputies Clarke and Newsome arrived to help search the remainder of the home for victims as well as attempt to extinguish the fire. The remaining victims (mother, infant child, and toddler child) exited the residence through a bathroom window.  Deputies Bonifacio, Hauck, Clarke and Newsome were transported to the Memorial Regional Medical Center where they were treated for smoke inhalation. If not for their actions, the 11-year-old child might not have survived.  Deputies Bonifacio, Hauck, Clark and Newsome are awarded the 2013 VACP/VPCF Lifesaving Award for their heroic lifesaving acts at great personal risk.

Henrico County Division of Police
Officer J.P. Gray


On November 16, 2012 a group of men were outside of an Henrico County hotel during the early morning hours when a vehicle arrived and the occupants of the vehicle began to argue with the group. During the course of the argument, the suspect got out of the car, pulled out a handgun and began shooting into the group. One person was struck as the group ran for cover. The suspect then got into the passenger side of the vehicle and left the scene.

Officer J. P. Gray was enroute to the shooting scene when he observed a vehicle matching the description of the suspect’s car near the scene of the crime. Officer Gray stopped the vehicle, and while the driver was taken into custody, the suspect in the passenger seat climbed into the driver seat and drove off from the location of the traffic stop. Officer Gray pursued the subject until he lost control of the vehicle and crashed at an overpass off lnterstate I-64. Officer Gray, without back up, exited his vehicle and gave commands to the suspect. The suspect ignored commands and got out of the vehicle in an attempt to escape. He ran to the overpass wall and without hesitation jumped off the bridge onto I-64; 90 feet below, landing in the middle of west bound traffic lanes. Officer Gray observed the suspect lying in the Interstate lanes and ran down the embankment to render assistance and make the apprehension. In the meantime, multiple vehicles had to take evasive action to avoid the suspect. Officer Gray, realizing that the suspect was in danger of being killed ran out into traffic on I-64, pulled the suspect to the safety of the shoulder of the Interstate, narrowly escaping being struck by a tractor trailer in the process. Back up officers arrived and the suspect was taken into custody and transported to the hospital for injuries sustained during the fall: two broken legs, broken pelvis and spinal injuries.
Officer Gray's quick action and disregard for his personal safety allowed for a dangerous individual to be apprehended. Furthermore, his quick and selfless actions also saved the suspect from further injuries and possible death if he had been struck by oncoming traffic. Henrico Police Officer J.P. Gray demonstrated great courage at personal risk while saving the life and apprehending this suspect, and is awarded the 2013 VACP/VPCF Lifesaving Award.

Hopewell Police Department
Officer Anthony Pulley

On December 18, 2012 Patrol Officer Anthony Pulley responded to a call in regards to a motor vehicle, which was on its roof. The vehicle was badly mangled and the driver’s leg was trapped between the seat and the vehicle frame. Officer Pulley crawled in the vehicle from the side rear window and cut away the seat belt. He then remained inside the mangled vehicle and supported the victim’s neck and kept her airway open until Fire/Rescue arrived and extricated her from the vehicle. Officer Pulley’s dedication, quick action and performance gave the victim another chance at life.  For these heroic efforts, Officer Anthony Pulley is honored with the 2013 VACP/VPCF Lifesaving Award.

Prince William County Police Department
Officer Joshua H. Boughman
Officer Luke N. Dean
Officer Michael A. Scarsella

On April 9, 2012 at 0310 hours Officers Joshua H. Boughman, Luke N. Dean and Michael A. Scarsella were dispatched to a Manassas house fire with victims possibly entrapped inside.

Officer Boughman was the first to arrive and was told that there were two other occupants inside the burning building. Officer Boughman entered the town home, which was engulfed in flames.

Officer Dean and Officer Scarsella arrived and quickly rushed inside the residence to assist. Officer Boughman located an elderly woman at the top of the stairs who informed him of a third individual who was immobile in one of the bedrooms, where the flames were quickly reaching. Officers Dean and Scarsella located the third individual laying on a bed and unable to move due to a broken leg from an unrelated incident. Officer Dean and Officer Scarsella grabbed hold of the man's arms and pulled him up and out of the bed. Officer Boughman attempted to grab the man's legs; however the victim complained that carrying him by the legs was too painful. At that point, Officer Boughman directed his efforts in clearing a path for Officers Dean and Scarsella, who carried the individual by his arms around their shoulders. All of the officers, and the injured man, negotiated their way down the stairs and outside of the burning townhouse.

The three Prince William County Police officers entered into the engulfed residence without regard for their own personal safety while faced with a rapidly deteriorating situation and an immobilized victim trapped inside the burning building. It is clear that had the officers not acted quickly at least one of the victims inside the residence may not have made it to safety.  For their decisive lifesaving actions, valor and teamwork, Prince William County Police Officers Joshua H. Boughman, Luke N. Dean and Michael A. Scarsella are recipients of the 2013 VACP/VPCF Lifesaving Award.

Virginia State Police
Senior Trooper Philip J. Battel
Senior Trooper Joseph E. Ferland

On December 28, 2012, at 2:21 a.m., Senior Trooper Philip J. Battel and Senior Trooper Joseph E. Ferland were assisting the Town of Saltville Police Department search for a subject who fled on foot after a vehicle pursuit. Leaving the scene, Sr. Trooper Battel noticed a bright orange glow and smoke billowing from a nearby house. He immediately activated his emergency lights and spotlight to alert Sr. Trooper Ferland, who was in a vehicle behind him. Both troopers responded to the single-story residence and radioed the location to dispatch at the Wytheville Division.

The troopers entered the smoke and flame-filled house and encountered two gentlemen and a female stumbling out of their bedrooms half asleep, dazed, and confused.  Assured that no one else was in the home, the troopers helped everyone exit the house to safety, including a dog. Suddenly one of the gentleman realized another small dog was still inside the burning building. Sr. Trooper Battel and the man ran back inside the house, quickly located the dog, grabbed a set of car keys, and returned to the group outside.  With the residents warm and safe in their vehicle from the sub-freezing temperatures outside, Troopers Battel and Ferland repositioned their vehicles on the main road and waited for the Saltville Volunteer Fire Department to arrive.

Sr. Trooper Battel and Sr. Trooper Ferland were miraculously at the right place at the right time. Their quick observations and courageous actions saved three people and their beloved pets from their burning home on a cold December night. For their heroic actions, Sr. Trooper Battel and Sr. Trooper Ferland are recipients of the 2013 VACP/VPCF Lifesaving Award.

Virginia State Police
Trooper Levon D. Epps

In the predawn hours of August 14, 2012, Virginia State Police Trooper Levon D. Epps found himself climbing onto and into a burning tractor-trailer to rescue its injured driver.  Trooper Epps was at a VDOT Work Zone in the eastbound lanes of Interstate 64 in Hampton when he heard the screeching of tires and witnessed a tractor-trailer turn over onto its side. 

The driver of the tractor-trailer became distracted and swerved into the Work Zone and was barreling down on a VDOT arrow board crash truck. The tractor-trailer swerved in an attempt to avoid the crash truck but struck it at an angle. The impact caused the driver to lose control of his rig. The tractor-trailer then overturned and caught fire, entrapping the driver.

Trooper Epps and a good Samaritan immediately ran to the burning tractor-trailer. They climbed up and over the side of the tractor-trailer as flames continued to rapidly spread throughout the vehicle. The trooper and the other individual were able to extract the driver from the damaged cab just moments before it became engulfed in flames.

Thanks to the quick and heroic actions of Trooper Epps, with the assistance of a good Samarian, the tractor trailer driver only suffered a few minor scrapes on his arm in a horrifying crash that could easily have cost him his life.  For his heroic actions, Trooper Epps is the recipient of the 2013 VACP/VPCF Lifesaving Award.

Virginia State Police
Senior Trooper Leo V. Pambid


On October 20, 2012, while off duty, Sr. Trooper Leo V. Pambid stopped by his neighbor’s home for a visit. On this Saturday afternoon, two teens were working on an old car some distance away while Pambid chatted with a few of his neighbors. Suddenly the engine burst into flames. A cup of gasoline that was sitting on the hood ignited and was rocketed through the air, landing on a seven-year-old child, engulfing her in flames. Nearby adults stood frozen in shock, except for Trooper Pambid and another neighbor, Mr. Sven Barnes. The two men without a moment’s hesitation ran to the child’s aid.

They placed her on the ground, extinguishing some of the flames. While the neighbor fiercely worked at extinguishing flames with his hands, Pambid ripped off his shirt and used that to further smother the fire. With bystanders still unable to assist, Pambid called for fire and rescue while running to his vehicle for a fire extinguisher. He returned and doused the remaining flames.  The child lapsed into shock as the flames were finally extinguished. Sr. Trooper Pambid stayed by her side monitoring her vital signs until EMS arrived.

If not for Sr. Trooper Pambid’s and the Mr. Barnes’ quick actions and disregard for their own safety, this young girl would have suffered far more serious burns and most likely death that day. Sr. Trooper Leo V. Pambid is honored for his heroic actions with the 2013 VACP/VPCF Lifesaving Award.

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The Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police (www.vachiefs.org) is a statewide organization of federal, state and local police chiefs and law enforcement executives dedicated to improving the professionalism of police agencies in Virginia. The Association was founded in 1926 and has more than 600 members. The Virginia Police Chiefs Foundation (www.vapolicefoundation.org) is a charitable educational foundation created by the VACP to provide training and education programs for law enforcement leaders.

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