Four deputies pulled a driver from a burning truck. One helped to save a boy from drowning. One pulled a woman who was considering suicide from the edge of a bridge. These stories were recognized on April 5 as Loudoun County's annual Valor Awards honored six sheriff's deputies' extraordinary actions in 2012.
Deputy Matthew Vess received the lifesaving award for saving a woman who had climbed over the guardrail of an overpass on the Loudoun County Parkway in May 2012. Vess saw the woman, stopped his car and ran over to her.
"I reached out and grabbed her arm and was able to bring her back to the inside of the fence," he said.
Vess followed protocol by bringing the young woman to the hospital for evaluation and was credited with saving her life. He said he didn't seek recognition for his actions, but "it's always nice when your supervisors and the sheriff are there to say that you did a good job."
Four deputies received the certificate of valor for bringing a driver to safety after a crash on the Dulles Greenway in August 2012. Sgt. Joseph Salamida, Deputy Specialist Randall Stackpole, Deputy Raymond Gessner and Deputy Specialist Erik Dimas pulled the driver away from his truck, which was on fire.
1st Lt. Gary Gaither was honored for saving the life of a child in August 2012, alongside his wife, Karen Roberts-Gaither, and his brother-in-law, Donald Roberts. The three were at a family picnic when Roberts-Gaither noticed a child struggling in a pool, and Gaither and Roberts pulled the boy out of the water. The lieutenant and his wife performed CPR on the child, and he survived. Gaither received the lifesaving award, and his two family members received the citizen's award for their actions.
The awards also recognized members of the Town of Leesburg Police Department, Loudoun County Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services personnel and seven citizens.