Saluting Acts of Heroism

Orange County Sheriff’s Department honors 26 employees in annual Medal of Valor ceremony

Once sheriff’s Deputy Lisa Dolan learned that there was a child inside the wrecked car she saw before her on Interstate 5 near the Grapevine, things changed.

“As soon as I heard that, everything shifted,” she said. “We literally broke the door apart.”

Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes, right, presents the Medal of Lifesaving to Deputy Mark Van De Kreeke for performing lifesaving measures on a stabbing victim during the 31st annual Medal of Valor ceremony honoring 26 employees in the Orange County SheriffÕs Department for their work in 2018 at a luncheon at the Hotel Irvine in Irvine on Thursday, April 11, 2019. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Alongside her was Deputy Kristyn Ellis, who now works patrol out of Lake Forest. On July 20, 2018 the two had been driving back from training when they saw the car that had been damaged in a crash.

They stopped, and as they raced to get the unconscious 12-year-old boy out of the car, a fire started. Clad in yoga pants and workout clothes, neither was ready to take on a burning vehicle. But the boy’s father was trapped inside.

“We just start pulling at the car with our bare hands…the fire was coming up and almost touching us. I thought my face was going to burn,” Dolan, who works out of North Operations, said.

Despite the danger, the women were able to free the man and get him and the boy to safety. Both survived.

Theirs was just one of the stories shared Thursday, April 11 at the Orange County Sheriff’s Department annual Medal of Valor ceremony.

Dolan and Ellis, and 24 other department employees, were honored for their acts of heroism and service at the Hotel Irvine. Some were honored for saving lives, others for courage and some for merit in their fields.

About 770 employees, family members and city and county officials watched as Sheriff Don Barnes placed medals around the necks of the honorees during the department’s 31st ceremony.

“It’s the one time of year where we have an opportunity to recognize the exemplary efforts of our personnel,” Sheriff Don Barnes said before the ceremony. “The people standing here today on the stage are all deserving and make us proud. I think they personify the best efforts of 2018 for us as an organization.”

Troy Chavers was at the right place at the right time on June 5, 2018 when he and his wife, Christine Wilhelm, entered a business building in Tustin. He noticed a man sitting on the second-story railing with his feet dangling.

“I noticed that wrapped around the railing was a rope,” Chavers said. He told his wife to call 911 and then he started talking to the man.

“I said ‘Hey bud, what’s up?’ trying to get him to respond…but he didn’t,” the recent retiree said. The man was mumbling to himself but wouldn’t talk to Chavers, who worked for the department for 32 years.

“When I got close enough to him, I lunged and pulled him off the railing.” Chavers said he soon learned the distraught man had recently lost his wife.

“I don’t think I did anything heroic. I did anything that anybody else would do and that’s to help somebody that needed help,” he said.

During the awards luncheon, speakers lauded the department’s honorees efforts, which also included awards for merit such as one given to Cathy Borchardt, a supervising radio dispatcher. She was instrumental in the recent launch of the county’s Text-to-911 capabilities. Investigator Craig Goldsmith was given the Distinguished Deputy Award for his nearly 30-year career in the department mostly recently in the computer forensics detail where he has uncovered information that led to the arrests of suspected pedophiles and helped in murder investigations.

Ellis, one of the deputies who saved the boy and his father, said she was grateful for being recognized. But like several other recipients said she valued more that they were able to help.

“I’m just glad that we were there and we get to tell that story with a good outcome,” she said.


Medal for Lifesaving

  • Deputy Daniel Merz: He jumped into the ocean to pull a suicidal woman who was drowning off of Dana Point Harbor Pier.
  • Deputy Richard Broadhead: He, along with Deputy Merz, pulled a suicidal woman who was drowning off of Dana Point Harbor Pier.
  • Deputy Mark Van De Kreeke:
  • Deputy Jeremy Buraglia
  • Deputy Kyle Pickard
  • Deputy Patrick White
  • Deputy Daniel Douthitt
  • Deputy Troy Chavers
  • Deputy Brenden Billinger
  • Deputy Lisa Dolan
  • Deputy Kristyn Ellis
  • Deputy Nathan Rivas
  • Deputy Kyle Bilton
  • Deputy Michael Kruggel
  • Deputy Cody Eversgerd
  • Deputy Virl Jones
  • Deputy Rodney Elcock
  • Investigator Matthew Stafford

Medal for Merit

  • Supervising Radio Dispatcher Cathy Borchardt
  • Supervising Communications Coordinator Derek Gard
  • Investigator Alain Sirgy
  • Investigator Jeffrey Jacques

Medal for Courage

  • Deputy Ryan Root
  • Sgt. Kristopher Kiltz
  • Correctional Services Technician Jason Luong
  • Distinguished Deputy Medal
  • Investigator Craig Goldsmith
Posted in: Community, Criminal, Media Update, Member Advisement, Uncategorized