Blog

Virginia Police Chiefs Recognize Twenty-Six Officers with 2019 Awards for Lifesaving

Officers from Danville, Richmond, Roanoke, Virginia Beach, Virginia Dept. of Game & Inland Fisheries, and Virginia State Police honored for their extraordinary lifesaving efforts.

Danville Police Dept. 
Cpl. John D. Dixon
Officer Jonathan M. Masi
Lt. David E. Whitley


On October 11, 2018, Officers J.D. Dixon, J.M. Masi and Sergeant D.E. Whitley responded to the area of Arnett Boulevard and Wendell Scott Drive to assist drivers stranded in their vehicle by rapidly rising flood waters from Hurricane Michael. They found two vehicles that had been swept onto a guardrail on Wendell Scott Drive. Officers could not get to the vehicles due to the strong current, so they ran across an abandoned bridge to reach Wendell Scott Drive.
 
Sergeant Whitley and members of the Danville Life Saving Crew pulled the wench cable from an emergency vehicle and entered into the rushing water towards the stranded vehicles. After reaching the vehicles and while attempting to hook the wench cable to the vehicle, Crewmember Gary Ryan was knocked off his feet, swept under the stranded car, and trapped under approximately 3 feet of water. Holding fast to the wench cable with one hand, Whitley reached down and grabbed hold of Ryan, but due to the force of the water, he was unable to pull him up. Sergeant Whitley then let go of the secure wench cable and used both hands to pull Ryan up to safety. The car began to move towards the already flooded creek below and the wench cable was attached to the car to secure it. Officers Masi and Dixon also entered the water and made their way to the cars. A crewmember then gave Whitley a life jacket to wear during the event. As Whitley opened the car door, he gave commands to the passengers to get out. He then removed his life jacket, gave it to a female passenger, and convinced her to exit. Two females were taken from the flooded vehicle and carried to higher ground. Officers Masi and Dixon then re-entered the water and went to the front of a building near the intersection where a woman was trapped inside her vehicle. Masi and Dixon were able to extract the female and bring her to safety. All three officers then waded back through the water to the rear of the same building and were able to assist three people out of the business through a window.
 
At the intersection of Riverside Drive and Arnett Boulevard, the officers exited their police vehicle and waded through the water on Riverside Drive to the intersection of Audubon Drive. They rescued 12 people from seven vehicles and walked them to safety. They also removed a passenger from a stranded City of Danville handicapped bus.
 
Were it not for the quick actions of these officers, the vehicle occupants and Danville Life Saving Crew member Gary Ryan would likely have been swept away and drowned by the rushing floodwaters. We are honored to present Cpl. John D. Dixon, Officer Jonathan M. Masi and 
Lt. David E. Whitley with the VACP Lifesaving Award.
 

Danville Police Dept. 
Major Timothy W. Jones
Cpl. Christopher B. Morris


On October 11, 2018, Major T.W. Jones and Detective C. B. Morris had gone out on the street to assist in the Danville community that was actively dealing with flooding and destruction caused by the remnants of Hurricane Michael. While driving on West Main Street, Jones and Morris came upon a female trapped inside her vehicle on Tunstall Road near Ballou Park, which was stalled in the flash flood waters. The female was trapped in the vehicle due the force of the rapidly rising waters against the car door that prevented her from opening it. Jones and Morris waded into the rushing water that was waist and chest depth at points, to reach the trapped female. The vehicle was taking on water up to the windows when they reached her. The water was so forceful that the two officers working together were unable to open the door. Shifting their tactic, they quickly moved to rescue the trapped female through the door window. Having secured her from the vehicle, Jones and Morris brought the female safety.
 
Were it not for the quick actions of these officers, the vehicle occupant would likely have been swept away and drowned by the rushing floodwaters. Major Jones and Detective Morris took deliberate, self-less action to save a life in spite of the potential risk to their own. 
 
We are honored to present them with the VACP Lifesaving Award.
 

Danville Police Dept. 
Officer Charles W. Willard


On October 11, 2018 Officers C.W. Willard and S.B. Cannaday were on Memorial Drive after having processed a crime scene. The remnants from Hurricane Michael were beginning to hit the city and numerous tornado warnings and flash flood warnings were being broadcast.
 
While on Memorial Drive, Willard and Cannaday observed an intersection that was flooded with approximately three feet of water.  Vehicles had become trapped in the roadway, so they immediately blocked the roadway to prevent further traffic from becoming caught in the rising water. Both officers waded through rushing water to two vehicles submerged in the water on Memorial Drive. Willard and Cannaday worked together to rescue three adults, one child, and a dog from the two stranded vehicles. They assisted them to a safe area and as they started back, they observed another vehicle drive into the floodwaters. That car also became flooded and they assisted the driver to safety.
 
As both officers went back to directing traffic, a vehicle stopped and a female exited the car. She told the officers that she lived nearby and was going to walk home. Due to the still heavy rain, Officer Willard went with her to assist. As they started across the street, the force of the water knocked the female down and started sweeping her towards the already flooded Memorial Drive. Without hesitation, Officer Willard went into the water and attempted to assist her. The water was so forceful that it also knocked him down while he was attempting to help her. The water quickly pushed Willard towards Memorial Drive; however, he kept his composure, rolled towards the curbing and was able to stop. He continued to look for the female who had been knocked down and spotted her coming towards him in the water. Willard reached out, grabbed the female, and pulled her to him. A member of the Danville Life Saving Crew was in the grassy area and was able to assist Officer Willard as he pulled the female from the rushing water. During the incident, Officer Willard suffered a tear in his shoulder and lost or damaged some of his police equipment.
 
Were it not for the quick actions of these officers, the vehicle occupants and the female pedestrian would likely been swept away by the rushing floodwaters. Officer Willard and Officer Cannaday took deliberate, self-less action to save lives in spite of the potential risk to their own lives.  
 

Richmond Police Dept.
Officer Aaron Henning
Officer Daniel Raines


In the early morning hours of April 15, 2018, Officers Aaron Henning and Daniel Raines responded to a call on the Lee Bridge for an adult male hanging off the southbound side. The initial information stated that the male was hanging from the outside of the railing, leaning out toward the James River.
 
Numerous calls for service came in referencing the individual who appeared to be about to jump. Richmond Fire and EMS showed up first, but did not approach the individual. Officer Henning and Officer Raines arrived shortly after, and in their professional opinion, believed the male was getting up the nerve to jump.
 
Officers immediately rushed toward the male and were able to grab him before he released his handhold. They were able to drag him back over the railing to the street side. The officers restrained the male and allowed EMS to approach. The male told the officers he suffered a medical condition.
 
Officers Aaron Henning and Daniel Raines' dedication to duty helped save this man's life. It is not rare for officers to respond to a call involving individuals looking as if they were about to jump from the bridge. However, it is rare to actually see the person commit themselves to their act by climbing over the railing and leaning out over the James River.
 
In these instances, officers have to make a quick judgement. “Do I take the time to talk to him/her or is there not enough time and action has to be taken.” These two officers made a quick decision concerning what they saw and took immediate action. Without the quick action of these officers, the man would have jumped from the bridge.
 
We are honored to present Officer Aaron Henning and Officer Daniel Raines with the VACP Lifesaving Award.
 

Richmond Police Dept.
Officer Larry New
Officer Robert Kleinholz
Officer Christopher Shore
Officer Joshua Umbel


On November 17, 2018, Officer Larry New was told that a suicidal woman had doused herself in gasoline and was threatening to set herself on fire. Officer New asked for additional officers to come to the gas station in the 2200 block of Chamberlayne Avenue. Officers Robert Kleinholz, Christopher Shore, and Joshua Umbel all responded.
 
The woman had purchased $2 of gasoline and then proceed to soak her hair and clothing in gas. The woman then lit a cigarette and continued to make threats to harm herself.
 
Officers New and Kleinholz engaged in a conversation with the woman as Officers Shore and Umbel approached her from behind. While the woman was distracted by the officers, the other officers were able to grab her and prevent her from setting herself on fire. These officers placed themselves in a dangerous situation to prevent a potential suicide. They were also able to get her the mental health treatment she needed.
 
We are honored to present Officer Larry New, Officer Robert Kleinholz, Officer Christopher Shore, and Officer Joshua Umbel with the VACP Lifesaving Award.
 

Richmond Police Dept.
Officer Brooke Spence
Officer Jason Jones

In the early morning hours on January 11, 2019, Officers Brooke Spence and Jason Jones were dispatched to assist the fire department for a man attempting to jump off the Manchester Bridge. The caller told police that half of the man's body was already over the bridge.
 
Officer Spence was the first to make contact with the man and quickly established communication with him. Officer Jason Jones arrived shortly after and established a safe immediate response distance to him. The man responded to Officer Spence's verbal contact but still remained close to the bridge's rail and said he wanted to die.
 
After several minutes of talking with Office Spence, the man turned away and started to climb over the rail. Officers Spence and Jones immediately rushed over and grabbed the man and safely brought him back over the rail.
 
“I witnessed the events unfold and Officers Brooke Spence and Jason Jones' actions undoubtedly saved this man's life,” said Sergeant Dave Conyers.
 
We are honored to present Officer Brooke Spence and Officer Jason Jones with the VACP Lifesaving Award.
 

Roanoke Police Dept.
Chief Tim Jones
Sergeant Gayle Combs
Officer Devin Moore
Officer David Lyle
Officer Vincent Haddoxe


On May 9, 2019, Officer Vincent Haddox was driving on Orange Avenue heading west. As he approached the I-581 overpass, he noticed a man was hanging off the overpass bridge by his arms.  Officer Haddox stopped traffic in his lane and immediately radioed for assistance.  Officer Devin Moore was in the immediate area, and drove to the scene to assist. Both lanes of traffic under the overpass were shut down. Officer Haddox requested that officers go to the top of the overpass to grab onto the man before he fell. Without hesitation, Officer Moore ran up the grass embankment to the interstate, ran across two lanes of oncoming traffic, jumped the concrete median, then crossed two more lanes of traffic to get to the man.
 
As Officer Moore is approaching the subject, she noticed Roanoke Chief Tim Jones was in the lane of traffic closest to the man hanging off the bridge. He signaled to Officer Moore to approach carefully, and then the two of them crept up and grabbed the man's arms.  Chief Jones and Officer Moore quickly realized they were not able to pull the man up on their own. They hung onto his arms for just a few moments, and then Officer David Lyle and Sergeant Gayle Combs arrived. The four of them were able to pull the man back over the bridge to safety. 
 
All five of these officers did not hesitate to put their own lives at serious risk to save this man.  Something unusual about this incident is that it involves, among others, a member of Command Staff who has been a part of the department for nearly 40 years and an officer who went on independent patrol a month before this incident happened. This shows that even though the members of the Roanoke Police Department may be decades apart in years of service, the amount of dedication to the City of Roanoke and community remains unchanged.
 
We are honored to present Roanoke Police Sergeant Gayle Combs, Officer Devin Moore, Officer David Lyle and Officer Vincent Haddox, along with Chief Tim Jones, a member of the VACP Executive Board, with the VACP Lifesaving Award.
 

Virginia Beach Police Dept.
MPO Sean Garvin
Officer Mitchell Mengel
Officer Evan Mabry


On April 13, 2018, Officers Mitchell Mengel and Evan Mabry were dispatched to a stabbing case in which a citizen reported hearing a female calling for help. Master Police Officer (MPO) Sean Garvin arrived to assist. Once on scene, a citizen directed officers to the 300 block of 26th Street, and as they walked along the side of the residence they noticed a female lying at the base of the exterior stairs in a pool of blood.
 
Observing the woman's severe lacerations, Officer Mabry requested a medical go-bag. Officer Mengel applied a combat tourniquet to her arm, while MPO Garvin applied a tourniquet to her leg. While rendering aid, Officer Mabry gathered information that indicated the suspect was still on scene in an apartment overlooking their location.
 
Officer Mabry provided cover as MPO Garvin and Officer Mengel continued to render aid to the victim. At that moment, the suspect forced open an upstairs door and began to push a chair outside. The suspect also had set fire to the inside of the house. Sensing the danger from the fire and the chair which was about to fall on them, the officers carried the female to a safe location.
 
While MPO Garvin continued to render first aid, Officer Mengel and Officer Mabry could hear the suspect barricading himself inside the residence. As flames and smoke began to pour out of the apartment, the suspect jumped from a second story window. Officers Mengel and Mabry placed him into custody, and then applied a tourniquet to his leg as a result of injuries sustained during the fall.
 
Both the victim and suspect were transported to a local hospital for treatment due to their extensive injuries. Both survived. 
 
We are honored to present MPO Sean Garvin, Officer Mitchell Mengel and Officer Evan Mabry with the VACP Lifesaving Award.
 

VA Dept. of Game & Inland Fisheries 
CPO Katiana Quarles


On July 21, 2018, Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) Conservation Police Officers Katiana Quarles and Daniel Eller responded to a call regarding several persons who were missing from their boat on Lake Anna. Once the officers arrived on scene, they observed two boats, one of which had several occupants and was actively attempting to assist another boater with dislodging his grounded boat. Two of the occupants of the assisting boat were in the water and utilizing ropes in an attempt to dislodge the grounded boat. 
 
As wind began to make the current unbearable, DGIF officers acted quickly when they noticed the two men in the water begin to struggle as the now dislodged boat quickly made its way back out to deeper water. The men attempted to swim out to the boat but given the strong current, were unable to reach it. Officers Quarles and Eller pulled up alongside the men in order to get the stressed boaters into their patrol boat. They were able to get the first man inside the boat, while the other man had floated further away, so they made their way over to him. 
 
Officer Eller threw him a stern rope and pulled him around the motor towards the ladder. As he got closer to the ladder, the struggling man let go of the Officer's rope and began sinking under the water. Officer Eller was able to grab his PFD and pull him back up to the water surface, and then to the ladder.
 
As the officers got the second man into the boat, Officer Quarles noticed a third man in the water without a PFD. Officer Quarles searched for a rescue device to throw the man and Officer Eller kept trying to move the patrol boat closer to him.  Officer Quarles jumped from the patrol boat and reached the unconscious man, then turned him around and started lifesaving measures to get a response. Once Officer Eller and the two previously rescued victims were finally able to get within a safe distance to Officer Quarles and the unresponsive man in the water, they all tried to help get this man in the boat. At this point, the two other victims that had previously been rescued jumped back into the water to try to help Officer Quarles rescue the drowned man. 
 
Officer Eller managed to get the group to the stern of the boat while they hung on to each other. The unresponsive man started coughing and showing signs of life. Everyone made it into a patrol boat and was transported to safety. 
 
We are honored to present CPO Katiana Quarles with the VACP Lifesaving Award.
 

Virginia State Police
Trooper Matthew T. Conley


On August 25, 2018, Trooper Matthew T. Conley was on patrol when he received a dispatch of a subject threatening to jump from the Rappahannock River Bridge on Interstate 95. Trooper Conley arrived within minutes of the call.  While conversing with the man, Trooper Conley confirmed that the man intended to end his life by jumping from the bridge. Remaining calm and engaging in an ongoing conversation with the man, Trooper Conley was able to skillfully persuade the man to briefly step away from the edge of the bridge.
 
Just as Trooper Conley attempted to escort the subject to safety, the man abruptly pulled the other way and attempted to jump. Without hesitation or regard for his own safety, Trooper Conley instinctively grabbed the man and saved both of them from slipping off the bridge. Trooper Conley successfully restrained the subject and was able to pull him to safety.
 
On this day, Trooper Conley demonstrated his true dedication to protecting and preserving life. While placing himself perilously close to the edge of the bridge, his quick thinking and immediate actions prevented the man from taking his own life. Furthermore, Trooper Conley acted both compassionately and professionally by providing aid and ensuring the man received appropriate medical care.
 
Trooper Conley's actions were above and beyond the call of duty, while extending ever effort to successfully save a life.  We are honored to present Trooper Matthew T. Conley with the VACP Lifesaving Award.
 

Virginia State Police
Special Agent Shawn M. Ford

Virginia State Police
Sergeant-Pilot Vincent J. Mancano


On October 12, 2018, during Tropical Storm Michael, a call came in that Nottoway County Fire and EMS needed assistance with a river rescue on the Route 611 bridge over Deep Creek. Michael's heavy rains had turned a typically docile creek into a raging torrent, and a vehicle was now trapped on the bridge with flood waters rapidly rising. The vehicle's driver and passenger were unable to escape by vehicle or on foot due to the swift water flowing over the bridge and roadway. Med-Flight I crew, comprised of Aviation Sergeant-Pilot Vince J. Mancano, Flight Paramedic T. Michael Abbott, and Flight Nurse Shannon R. Cooper, arrived on the scene in a remote area of the county. Without a suitable landing site at the scene, the Med-Flight I crew had to land at a remote site, off-load medical equipment and reconfigure the helicopter for rescue.
 
When the helicopter returned to the bridge, Flight Nurse Cooper guided Sgt-Pilot Mancano directly over the vehicle and lowered the rescue basket to the victims who were standing on the roof of their partially-submerged vehicle. Flight Paramedic Abbott assisted with deploying the rescue basket and provided obstacle clearance calls for Sgt-Pilot Mancano.
 
Both of the stranded individuals survived their life-threatening ordeal without injury thanks to the incredible team work of that morning's Med-Flight I team. This was an extremely difficult and risky rescue, under normal conditions, let alone in gusting, post-hurricane winds.
 
Sgt-Pilot Mancano went above and beyond his normal duties as a Virginia State Police Aviation Pilot. Even with limited training on night-time rescue operations with the use of night-vision goggles, he still expertly maneuvered the helicopter and guided his crew with extraordinary professionalism, composure, and fortitude.
 
We are honored to present Sergeant-Pilot Vincent J. Mancano with the VACP Lifesaving Award.

FUTURE VACP CONFERENCE DATES:

Winter Conferences
February 7-9, 2024
February 5-7, 2025
February 4-6, 2026
Location for all: Hilton Short Pump (Henrico County)

Annual Conferences
99th Annual
August 25-28, 2024

Location: Hotel Roanoke
 
100th Annual
August 24-27, 2025

Location: Williamsburg Lodge

101st Annual
August 30 – September 2, 2026

Location: Hotel Roanoke