Orange County Sheriff’s Department Awards Deputies for Exemplary Service, Including Some who Helped During Las Vegas Shooting

By ALMA FAUSTO | | Orange County Register
PUBLISHED: April 27, 2018 at 4:49 pm | UPDATED: April 30, 2018 at 9:05 am

Several Orange County sheriff’s deputies were honored Friday with awards for their courage in 2017, including some who helped victims and were wounded during the deadly Las Vegas shooting in October.

The Medal of Valor ceremony was held at the Hotel Irvine where 27 deputies were honored, 14 of whom got the Medal for Lifesaving and six who received the Medal of Merit.

Cmdr. Dave Sawyer was given the prestigious Distinguished Deputy award and Deputy Joe Owen, who was wounded by gunfire in Las Vegas, received the Purple Heart in addition to the Medal of Courage.

Owen, a former Marine, was hit in three places while he stopped to help others who’d also been hit. In the chaos, he became separated from his wife but kept looking for victims to offer first aid.

The 29-year-old saw a man who’d been shot in the shoulder and knelt onto the ground to apply pressure to the wound. That’s when he was shot.

“I felt a burning sensation on my stomach,” Owen told reporters at a press conference before the ceremony.

“I looked down…I realized that my stomach area was red on my shirt and just this burning sensation that I hadn’t felt before.”

Owen, father to a 5-year-old, was hospitalized for three days after being shot in the stomach, leg and armpit.

“I’m definitely can’t say I was glad to be there in a mass shooting but at the same time it was the first responders and the military and those guys who were stepping up in a big way,” he said.

His partner of two years, Deputy Mark Seamans, also ran back to the open area where bullets were raining down. He had already helped his group exit the area.

“I knew people that I was with were safe and it’s time to go back and render aid as much as I can,” he said.

The annual event on Friday showcased other acts of bravery among the deputies such as an air rescue of three teenage hikers who were stranded on a cliff and a deputy who pulled 20-year-old driver from a burning truck.

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