OC Sheriff’s 36th Annual Medal of Valor Ceremony Recognizes Heroes

Orange County Sheriff’s Deputies from left: Kassy Jacobs, Stacy Cole and Casey Briggs, received the Medal for Lifesaving after rendering aid to a stabbing victim in Nov. 2023, during the annual Medal of Valor ceremony and luncheon at the Hilton Anaheim in Anaheim on Thursday, April 25, 2024. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)


By  | mdarwish@scng.com


A woman stabbed at a warehouse

Three deputies received Medals for Lifesaving after providing critical care for a 48-year-old woman who was stabbed at an Amazon warehouse in Mission Viejo on Nov. 21, 2023. The woman, who suffered severe injuries in the neck, was first helped by Deputy Casey Briggs, who applied pressure to control the bleeding.

Deputy Kassy Jacobs and Deputy Stacy Cole arrived shortly after and worked alongside Briggs to control the heavy bleeding while keeping the victim calm until personnel from the Orange County Fire Authority arrived. Jacobs utilized her experience as a former United States Air Force medic to help slow the bleeding and clear the woman’s airway.

The woman recovered.

A man shot in the chest

A Seal Beach police detective and three deputies received Medals for Lifesaving after providing medical care to a gunshot victim, after a drug deal ended in an exchange of gunfire at a residence in unincorporated Rossmoor on Sep. 30, 2023.

Detective Jacob Otto and Deputies Eduardo Cardenas, Alfredo Rodriguez and Jeremiah Peyus provided first aid to a 23-year-old man lying in front of the home after suffering from a gunshot wound to the upper chest. The group applied pressure to the injury and helped him adjust to a position where he could breathe more easily until paramedics arrived.

He recovered.

One car rolls over, another catches fire

Deputy David McElwain and Deputy Kyle Pendergast were awarded Medals for Lifesaving after rescuing victims from a burning vehicle following a crash on Coast Highway in Dana Point on April 28, 2023, that left one car on fire and caused the other to roll over onto its side with two occupants trapped inside.

Pendergast helped position one victim until advanced medical care arrived, after he and McElwain pulled the victim out of the burning vehicle, with McElwain directing the victim into the backseat to make it easier for the two deputies to get him out. While waiting for the Orange County Fire Authority to arrive and assist in pulling out the trapped occupants of the vehicle that rolled over, McElwain helped relieve pressure off of a woman stuck beneath a man inside the car by lifting his legs off of her.

Couple in burning home

Two deputies received Medals for Lifesaving after getting an elderly couple out of a burning home in Laguna Hills on Dec. 19, 2023. Despite heavy smoke and portions of the home being enveloped in flames, Deputy Cole Snyder went into the home and made his way to the back of the residence where a woman was found disoriented and experiencing difficulty walking. Snyder led her to near the front door entrance where Deputy Steven Ledesma then pulled her out to safety.

Snyder and Ledesma returned to the home and followed the sound of a man’s voice calling for help until they found him, covered in soot and suffering severe burns, and led him outside.

Both deputies were hospitalized for smoke-inhalation injuries.

Toddler falls into pool, stops breathing

Deputy Tyler Gish and Crime Prevention Specialist Ryan Case, a former Los Angeles police officer, helped a 22-month-old toddler who had fallen into a pool and was not breathing when they arrived on Dec. 12, 2023. They received Medals for Lifesaving.

Case performed several rounds of CPR until the child regained a faint pulse after expelling water from his lungs. Gish assisted in helping the child.

The child was hospitalized and made a full recovery.

Academy recruit collapses

Two deputies and two Torrance police officers received Medals for Lifesaving after providing critical care to an academy recruit who had collapsed after running during a training session and lost consciousness at the Orange County Sheriff’s Regional Training Academy on April 27, 2023.

For eight minutes, Sgt. Neal HolmesOfficer Miguel Delgado, Deputy Steven Greenberg and Deputy Justin MacDonald performed CPR on the recruit and used an automated external defibrillator twice until paramedics arrived.

The recruit had successful heart surgery, with medical staff saying the efforts by those at the academy were critical.

The recruit plans to return to the academy and become a deputy.

Making a difference with boys and girls

Medal for Merit recipient Sgt. Brian Gunsolley developed and implemented a six-week substance-abuse-prevention program for 5th- and 6th-grade students called Above the Influence. The program, which is taught by deputies from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, graduated 3,000 students in its first year during the 2022-23 school year.

Establishing the Investigative Genealogy Unit

Investigators Lauren Felix and Robert Taft received Medals for Merit for establishing the Orange County Sheriff’s Department’s Investigative Genealogy Unit, allowing them to help solve decades-old homicide cases. Four people have been positively identified so far using DNA evidence, including a victim from a 1974 murder case in Aliso Viejo linked to notorious serial killer Randy Steven Kraft, also known as the “Scorecard Killer.”

An especially strong leader

Described as a leader and mentor with a strong work ethic and breadth of experience in the field, Commander Jared Dahl was recognized for his role as a Distinguished Deputy. Beginning his career with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department in 1993 as a sheriff’s special officer, Dahl now works as the Transit Operation Division commander overseeing the Airport Police Services Bureau, the Harbor Patrol Bureau and the Orange County Transportation Authority/Mass Transit Bureau.

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