Adjust text size

Virginia Police Chiefs Recognize Twenty-Two Officers with 2017 Awards for Lifesaving

September 20, 2017 | VACP

Twenty-two Virginia public safety officers are the recipients of the 2017 Awards for Lifesaving presented by the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police & Foundation (VACP). The awards will be announced September 19 at the VACP Annual Conference in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and awarded at a later date at ceremonies at the officers’ agencies.

The Award for Lifesaving recognizes an officer’s actions that put the officer in harm’s way in an attempt to save the lives of another individual. The 2017 recipients of the VACP Award for Lifesaving are as follows:

Bedford Police Department
Sergeant Levi Poole
Officer Joshua Peltier

On the afternoon of January 17, 2017, Sergeant Levi Poole and Officer Joshua Peltier responded to an active structure fire in a residential neighborhood in the Town of Bedford. Officer Peltier arrived and learned from the individuals outside the residence that several people – including children – were still inside. Without concern for his own safety, Officer Peltier entered the home, heavy with smoke and fire, and attempted to get them out. Inside, he encountered a man attempting to rescue one of the children. The man handed the child to Officer Peltier who then ran outside with the child. After turning the child over to a family member, Officer Peltier returned to the burning house to find the man unconscious on the stairs. He removed him from the house and brought him to the porch.

Officer Peltier then attempted to enter the home a third time because he was aware of two more children in the house. However, he could not make it into the house because the smoke and heat were overwhelming. He exited and told Sergeant Poole about the additional children in the home. Sergeant Poole entered the house and found a child at the top of the steps, but the heat and smoke were too intense and he could only get one hand on the child. Sergeant Poole exited the house and enlisted a nearby fire fighter to assist him in retrieving the child. The firefighter was able to get to the child and hand the child to Officer Poole, who took the child outside and administered CPR until breathing resumed.

The Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police is proud to recognize Bedford Police Sergeant Levi Poole and Officer Joshua Peltier with the 2017 VACP Award for Lifesaving.


Hanover Co. Sheriff’s Office
Lieutenant Rusty Hale
Sergeant Michael Brown
Deputy Matthew O’Bryant

On the night of May 18, 2017, Hanover Emergency Communications received multiple calls regarding a single vehicle traveling on East Patrick Henry Road that had left the road and struck a tree. The witnesses reported that the vehicle was on fire and that the sole occupant of the vehicle was unconscious and trapped within the vehicle. Hanover Fire/EMS was dispatched, but the vehicle crash and the resulting fire quickly became critical. The witnesses were not able to remove the vehicle's occupant.

Hanover Sheriff’s Office Patrol Deputy Matthew O'Bryant and Vice/Narcotics Sergeant Michael Brown responded to the scene. Witnesses notified Deputy O'Bryant and Sergeant Brown of the occupant in the vehicle. Both attempted to suppress the fire and open the vehicle's doors, but the impact of the crash had damaged the vehicle so severely that the doors would not open. The entire front part of the vehicle was engulfed in flames, despite their determined efforts to suppress the fire with fire extinguishers.

As Deputy O'Bryant continually attempted to douse the fire, Sergeant Brown entered the car by forcing the driver side rear door open. He immediately noticed that the driver was unconscious and attempted to remove him from the vehicle. Meanwhile, the growing fired caused the car battery to explode while Sergeant Brown was in the vehicle. Because of the intense heat, Sgt. Brown had to exit and re-enter the vehicle several times to try to pull the driver out, but he was unsuccessful each time.

Hanover Vice/Narcotics Lieutenant Rusty Hale arrived on the scene and entered the burning vehicle with Sgt. Brown.  Together they were able to remove the driver from the vehicle. Spotsylvania Sheriff's Office Deputy Perroni had arrived on scene, and assisted in carrying the victim away from the car, which was engulfed in flames. Deputy O'Bryant, Deputy Perroni, Sergeant Brown and Lieutenant Hale's heroic selflessness and valor surely saved this citizen's life.

The Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police is proud to recognize Hanover County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Rusty Hale, Sergeant Michael Brown and Deputy Matthew O’Bryant with the 2017 VACP Award for Lifesaving.

James City Co. Police Department
Master Police Officer Diane Walters

On May 2, 2016, James City County Master Police Officer Diane Walters was travelling east bound on Interstate 64 when she came across a vehicle crash. The single vehicle crash involved a dump truck that had overturned and was fully engulfed in flames. The driver of the truck was stuck inside, screaming for help. MPO Walters was unsuccessful in her attempts to put out the fire.  She repeatedly returned to the dump truck in an effort to rescue the driver from the flames and heat. She also had to rescue a citizen, who had stopped to assist, from sliding into the fire. MPO Walters continued trying to save the trapped driver, and the citizen who had stopped to help.  Unfortunately, the driver of the truck could not be saved, despite the valiant efforts by MPO Walters.

The Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police is proud to recognize James City County Master Police Officer Diane Walters with the 2017 VACP Award for Lifesaving. 


Salem Police Department
Officer Brandon Alterio

On December 30, 2016, Officer Brandon Alterio responded to a structure fire at the Mount Regis Center located at 405 Kimball Avenue.

Upon arrival, Officer Brandon Alterio immediately assisted staff and residents in exiting the building to safety. While staff from Mount Regis were attempting to account for their patients, it was determined that one patient had not been located. Knowing a possible room number, Officer Alterio entered the building safely from a side entrance and located the patient, leading him to safety outside.

Once outside, staffed determined that an additional patient was missing. By now, the front of the building was on fire and Officer Alterio was unaware of the second patient's room number. Officer Alterio again entered the building from the same side entrance and begin a room search for the patient. After checking several rooms, the patient was located still asleep, unaware of the fire. At this point, Officer Alterio was able to exit the building safely with the patient.

Lieutenant M. D. Mills, who was on scene states, "Brandon went well above and beyond the call of his regular duties and I have no doubt that his heroic actions helped to save several lives during this tragic event."

The Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police is proud to recognize Salem Police Officer Brandon Alterio with the 2017 VACP Award for Lifesaving.


South Hill Police Department
Officer J.T. “Jamie” Velvin

On the night of July 22, 2016, Sergeant Velvin responded to assist with a six-alarm fire at the Fox Run Apartment complex in the town of South Hill. The fire started in an upper unit and spread quickly. The fire displaced eight families and the building was burnt to the point of being a total loss. Sgt. Velvin was dispatched to assist the fire department but arrived before they did. Once on scene he radioed that fire was coming from the roof and had spread from the second floor to the first. Residents advised Sgt. Velvin that there was still one person inside of one of the first floor apartments. The fire was too heavy in the breezeway, effectively blocking the door to the apartment. With assistance from other residents, a bedroom window was broken out of the apartment and Sgt. Velvin was lifted into the window. Sgt. Velvin found the resident eating a meal. Sgt. Velvin tried to explain to the subject that the building was on fire and that he needed to get out. Sgt. Velvin did not know that the subject was autistic and could not understand what was happening.  Due to this condition, the subject refused to leave the apartment. Knowing that they did not have much time, Sgt. Velvin had to remove the person forcibly from the apartment. Sgt. Velvin wrestled him all the way back to the window and, with the assistance of other residents, was able to get the subject and then himself out of the building. The subject was uninjured, but Sgt. Velvin sustained minor injuries to his back and legs while exiting through the window.  Sgt. Velvin had returned to work only two weeks earlier from an unrelated medical leave.

The Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police is proud to recognize South Hill Police Sergeant J.T. “Jamie” Velvin with the 2017 VACP Award for Lifesaving.  


Dept. of Conservation & Recreation, Div. of State Parks
Park Manager/Conservation Officer Christopher Doss
Assistant Manager/Conservation Officer Broderick Havens

On December 5, 2016, Claytor Lake Park Manager/Conservation Officer Chris Doss and Assistant Park Manager/Conservation Officer Brody Havens heard what sounded like an explosion that rattled the park office where they were located. Moments later, they heard Pulaski County 911 dispatch Fire and EMS to a propane tank explosion with injuries at a housing complex located next to Claytor Lake State Park.

Conservation Officers Doss and Havens immediately responded to provide mutual aid and were the first to arrive at the scene where they noticed a propane gas company truck in front of one of many duplexes. Smoke was billowing from under a residence where the gas hose was connected to the truck. Officer Doss located the gas deliveryman, the victim of the explosion, who was severely burned but able to stand and talk coherently. The victim said he was filling the residential gas tank when a flash explosion occurred. Officer Havens and Doss made sure that the homeowner and other residents of the complex were safely out of their homes away from the explosion. Soon after, a secondary explosion caused the smoking duplex unit to erupt into flames and blew the gas line connected to the truck away from the residence. Officer Doss immediately used his fire extinguisher to put out the flames at the end of the hose while Officer Havens was able to move the gas truck to a safe location. Fire and EMS personnel arrived on scene and extinguished the fire, and the victim received immediate medical attention.

Conservation Officers Doss and Havens demonstrated extreme courage as the first responders to the scene and acted quickly to locate and assist the victim, secure the residents, extinguish the gas hose fire and move the propane truck away from the fire. Their immediate and selfless actions prevented further harm to lives and property.

The Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police is proud to recognize Conservation Officers Chris Doss and Brody Havens with the 2017 VACP Award for Lifesaving.


Virginia Beach Police Department
Officer Randall K. Bryant
Officer Daniel J. Evans
Officer Gregory S. Yorgen

On September 4, 2016, multiple public safety units responded to the 5300 block of Northampton Boulevard due to the report of a swimmer in distress. Officers Gregory S. Yorgen, Daniel J. Evans, and Randall K. Bryant were the first to arrive on scene and found an individual at the spillway. Water levels and currents were extremely high due to a recent tropical storm.

The officers could see the victim just below where the water entered the south side of the spillway, holding on to some sort of flotation device. Without regard for their own safety and with no lifesaving equipment to utilize, Officers Evans, Yorgen, and Bryant entered the water to aid the victim. Officer Evans held onto a rope along the edge of the water and tried unsuccessfully to reach across to the victim. Officers Yorgen and Bryant jumped into the water, but both officers immediately were sucked underneath the water due to the strong current and undertow. The officers were able to fight back to the surface and maintain eyes on the victim, but could no longer reach him and now were in danger themselves.

Officer Evans continued to fight the surging water and was able to get the victim to grab a line that he was holding onto, but at this point the victim appeared to be exhausted and barely holding on. Although exhausted himself, Officer Evans let go of his safety line and attempted to cross the spillway to reach the victim. He was also immediately sucked under and forced out away from the spillway by the rapidly moving water. Officer Evans was able to fight his way to the surface, but at this point was at the point of exhaustion.

Officer Bryant saw a man on a jon boat on the opposite side of the tunnel. Before they could get the boat to the victim, the victim released the rope and was sucked under the water. When Officer Bryant reached the other side, a firefighter was entering the water with a paddleboard. He alerted the jon boat to come over and then saw the unconscious victim. The firefighter grabbed the victim and took him to land to render aid. Officer Bryant then got on the paddle board and entered the spillway again to retrieve Officers Yorgen and Evans. They both grabbed onto the paddle board and exited the spillway. EMS arrived on scene and began to render aid to the victim, but unfortunately the victim did not survive the ordeal. Regardless of the outcome, the officers entered into a situation that they knew was extremely dangerous and did so without second thought.

The Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police is proud to recognize Virginia Beach Police Officers Randall K. Bryant, Daniel J. Evans, and Gregory Yorgen with the 2017 VACP Award for Lifesaving.


Virginia Beach Police Department
Sergeant Justin K. Cole

On June 10, 2016, Sergeant Justin K. Cole and other Third Precinct units responded to a report of a stabbing in the City of Virginia Beach. Sergeant Cole was the first to arrive on scene and observed three individuals standing on the front porch area of a residence. One of the individuals appeared to have blood on his shirt.

As Sergeant Cole approached the individuals, one of them produced a long knife and began to yell at Cole to “stay back.” Officer Cole drew his service pistol while telling the armed man to drop the knife. The suspect holding the knife was holding hostage the other individual in the bloodied shirt.

The suspect repeatedly ducked behind the hostage. Officer Cole began to close the distance between himself and the suspect and hostage while telling the suspect to keep his attention focused on him. Officer Cole saw a third individual near the doorway of the home and instructed him to move out of harm’s way.

Officer Cole saw what appeared to be a large amount of blood near the front door. While the suspect appeared to have bloodstains on his hands and clothing, Cole did not observe any of the three people he saw to be bleeding to the extent that they could have created the blood pattern he observed. This caused Cole to believe there may have been additional injured people in the home. As Cole moved toward the front door to prevent the suspect’s escape, the suspect pulled the hostage into the townhouse. Officer Cole pushed the door open and observed the legs of a woman lying on the floor inside the front door.

Officer Cole radioed dispatch for backup while engaging the suspect, who was holding his hostage as a shield. He saw that the suspect was only lightly holding onto the hostage and he instructed the hostage to move quickly away from the suspect, which he did. Cole evacuated the hostage out of the front door of the home and directed him toward other officers who were beginning to arrive on scene. After several more commands, the suspect dropped the knife to the ground. The suspect complied with surrender instructions and was taken into custody without further incident.

Unfortunately, the 61-year-old female victim seen lying on the floor was deceased. However, Sergeant Cole's calm demeanor, measured approach, and courageous actions likely saved not only the hostage’s life but also the life of the suspect.

The Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police is proud to recognize Virginia Beach Police Sergeant Justin K. Cole with the 2017 VACP Award for Lifesaving.


Virginia State Police
Sr. Trooper Ona B. Moody, Jr.
Trooper Joseph P. Hylan
Trooper R. Matthew Reed

Richmond Co. Sheriff’s Office
Sheriff Stephan B. Smith
Captain J. Trevor Johnson
Deputy Charles P. Bowles, IV

On March 7, 2016, Troopers Joseph P. Hylan, Ona B. Moody and R. Matthew Reed were dispatched to a single vehicle crash near Village, Va. where a vehicle ran off the road and struck a tree.

Trooper Reed and Richmond County Deputy Charles P. Bowles, IV were first to arrive on scene and saw the vehicle catch fire with three victims still inside. As Deputy Bowles triaged the occupants, Trooper Reed quickly retrieved and deployed his fire extinguisher, but was unable to diminish the flames.

As the fire continued to spread, and with thick smoke filling the passenger compartment, Trooper Reed and Deputy Bowles immediately turned their attention to removing the occupants. They first removed the 81-year-old male in the front passenger’s seat, who was breathing but disoriented and had several visible traumatic injuries.

The officers rushed back to the vehicle to remove the 81-year-old female in the back seat, who was unconscious and wedged in the floorboard. After assuring her safety and with additional first responders arriving to assist, Trooper Reed stayed with the first two victims.

Trooper Hylan arrived and tried several times to extinguish the fire spreading from the engine compartment. Meanwhile, Deputy Bowles and Captain J. Trevor Johnson attempted to enter the smoke-filled, burning vehicle from the driver’s side. Despite breaking out the window, their attempts to open the driver’s door were unsuccessful. Trooper Hylan was finally able to suppress the flames long enough for Deputy Bowles to enter the vehicle from the front passenger’s side while Sr. Trooper Moody entered from the back seat to reach the unconscious driver trapped behind the steering wheel. Sheriff Stephan B. Smith cut the driver’s seatbelt through the broken window, and together, all five officers were able to disentangle and pull the unconscious driver from the vehicle through the passenger’s side door.

Without hesitation or fear for their own safety, these six law enforcement officers deployed all skills and resources available to rescue the three occupants from the burning vehicle. Sadly, in spite of their courageous efforts, all three occupants succumbed to their injuries at the scene. However, without the work of these dedicated officers to remove the victims from the burning vehicle, this crash would have been even more devastating to the victims’ families.

For their courageous and swift actions to rescue the three occupants, the Virginia Association is proud to honor Virginia State Police Sr. Trooper Ona B. Moody, Jr., Trooper Joseph P. Hylan, Trooper R. Matthew Reed, Richmond County Sheriff Stephan B. Smith, Captain J. Trevor Johnson and Deputy Charles P. Bowles, IV with the prestigious VACP/VPCF Lifesaving Award. Please convey our thanks to these officers for their professionalism and heroics, and our congratulations for a job well done.


Virginia State Police
Trooper Timothy M. Davenport, Jr.

On March 14, 2017, Trooper Timothy M. Davenport, Jr. was on duty and travelling west on the Route 10 bypass in the Town of Smithfield when he observed what he thought was a disabled vehicle on the bridge blocking the travel lane. Trooper Davenport was heading in the opposite direction, so he turned around at the end of the bridge and returned to the vehicle.

As Trooper Davenport approached the vehicle, he observed a female standing on top of the concrete barrier, facing the water below. The height of the bridge at that point is approximately 40 feet above the water, and the water below is relatively shallow. The air temperature that day was 50 degrees and the water temperature was seasonally cold. Trooper Davenport knew without a doubt the woman would die if she jumped or fell from the bridge.

The woman was clearly in great distress. As soon as Trooper Davenport exited his vehicle, the woman began shouting at the trooper to stay back. Keeping a calm demeanor, Trooper Davenport stayed a distance away as the woman sat down on the narrow concrete wall on the opposite side of the safety railing. It was at this point that Trooper Davenport was able to observe how close the woman was to slipping off the small ledge into the water below. Trooper Davenport engaged the woman, using effective verbal skills and was able to slowly approach her from behind.

The woman was slipping further off of the ledge. Trooper Davenport seized the opportunity to swiftly spring forward and grab the woman as she slipped even further off the ledge. With both of their weights pulling them over the side, Trooper Davenport used his foot as leverage against the concrete barrier.

This allowed him to hold onto the woman long enough for passing motorists to arrive and assist him to pull the woman back over the railing to safety.

There is no doubt that Trooper Davenport’s quick thinking and swift actions saved this woman’s life. Trooper Davenport selflessly put his own life at risk in order to save the life of another individual.

The Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police is proud to recognize Virginia State Police Trooper Timothy M. Davenport, Jr. with the 2017 VACP Award for Lifesaving.


Virginia State Police
Trooper John A. Williamson

On April 9, 2016, Trooper John A. Williamson was on patrol in Halifax County when dispatch reported a shooting incident on Solomon Road. Trooper Williamson immediately responded and was the first on scene along with Halifax County Sheriff’s Deputy Tyler H. Clarke.

Upon arrival, Trooper Williamson and Deputy Clarke found a male victim in the front yard of the residence with an apparent gunshot wound to the leg that was bleeding profusely. With the shooter suspected to be in the residence, Deputy Clarke and Trooper Williamson began securing the scene and informing incoming law enforcement about the shooter’s location.

With Deputy Clarke’s surveillance, Trooper Williamson was able to pull the man to a safer location. Trooper Williamson quickly assessed the man’s wound and expertly applied a tourniquet to halt the massive blood loss. He also informed dispatch about a teenager and an adult male, who had fled the house and sought safety at a nearby fire department.

Within minutes, Halifax County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Seth M. Bowen arrived and assisted Deputy Clarke with coaxing the female shooter out of the residence and into custody. Once the female was in custody, Lt. Bowen assisted Trooper Williamson with the victim until advanced medical personnel arrived on scene.

The gunshot victim sent the following statement to Trooper Williamson’s supervisor. It truly sums up the bravery and professionalism of Trooper Williamson, Lt. Bowen and Deputy Clarke displayed on the afternoon of April 9, 2016:

“…After calling 911 for help, Trooper Williamson was the first to arrive and take control of the scene. Other law enforcement officers arrived shortly thereafter and their attention turned to the shooter who was locked in their house. Trooper Williamson stayed with me to protect me from any threat until the shooter was in custody. I felt as safe as could be in that situation with him by my side, talking to me and assuring me that I was not alone or in danger anymore. I believe that he may have saved my life with the actions he took on me in those first critical minutes, assessing my wounds, removing the necessary clothing to apply a tourniquet to stop the massive blood loss and to determine that I needed to go straight to the Duke Trauma center. The professional and caring attention I received from Trooper Williamson will never be forgotten by me and I want the Virginia State Police to know my thoughts of this day. In these times of negative press and media attention of law enforcement, I will stand up to tell a much different story than they would. I commend Trooper John Williamson, V.S.P. and the Halifax Sheriff Department with the highest respect and gratitude.” 

The Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police is proud to recognize Virginia State Police Trooper John A. Williamson with the 2017 VACP Award for Lifesaving.

-#-

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