More Heroes Day
Teachout and Olson remained on the scene to assist with scene security and after completing this, gave the woman and her two small children a ride to Cordes Junction to reunite with their family.
Officer Mike Pelton
Tucson Police Department
Officer Mike Pelton responded to a call at the intersection of 22nd St. and the I-10 for a report of a male running through traffic attempting to end his life. The male was suffering a mental health crisis and was running in front of moving vehicles exiting the I-10.
When Pelton arrived he had to run into the traffic in an attempt to get the subject to stop, also risking his life. He grabbed the subject and started fighting with him in the middle of the street. Traffic continued to drive around them, and one subject stopped to flim and yell insults at Officer Pelton.
He was able to hold the subject down in the middle of the street until additional units arrived to help with the situation. Officer Pelton's actions helped save this man from ending his life that day.
TSgt David Velarde
TSgt David Velarde was on a morning jog when he came upon a man and his dog being viciously attacked by a Pitbull. TSgt Velarde stepped in and was able to halt the dog's attack on the man and his dog. They were both severely injured and needed to be transported to the hospital for further treatment.
They both survived thanks to TSgt Velarde. Not everyone would throw themselves into a dangerous situation like he did, TSgt Velarde is a true hero.
Heroes Day Honorable Mention's 2016
SrA Joshua R. Jones and SSgt Lorin E. Schlecht
SrA Joshua R. Jones and SSgt Lorin E. Schlect were on their way back to Davis-Monthan AFB from Fort Huachuca. They were each driving a vehicle and were merging onto the I-10 when they saw a car lose control and flip multiple times, ejecting a passenger. SrA Jones and SSgt Schlect were the first to respond to the ejected female passenger, who was unconscious lying face down.
It was apparent that she had sustained serious facial trauma and was showing symptoms of traumatic brain injury. The victim slowly regained consciousness, complaining of pain and becoming combative due to the traumatic event. Fortunately, they were able to keep her stabilized until EMS arrived.
Sgt. Erik Maldonado/Dep. Adam Schoonover
Pima County Sheriff
Sergeant Erik Maldonado and Deputy Adam Schoonover responded to a welfare call involving a 5 and 7-year-old girl. Their father had made a drunken phone call to his ex-wife asking if she wanted to talk to her daughters “one last time”. When Sergeant Maldonado and Deputy Schoonover arrived they heard shots fired inside the home. The father had shot both of his children in the head and then took his own life.
The worked furiously to provide first aid to the girls, but it was too late. Even after they had left the scene, they made themselves available to the family at all times. They spent a significant amount of time with the grieving family, providing emotional first aid. Their heroism continued and is evident in their efforts to care for the surviving family.
Tucson Fire Department
While driving off duty one day, Tucson Firefighter Cole Mayfield saw smoke and headed towards it to see how he could help. When he arrived he found out there was a house fire with two victims trapped inside. He assisted the Drexel Heights Fire District with resuscitation of a fire victim and made himself available wherever he was needed.
When the victims were removed from the house he helped in placing them into the ambulance and rode in the ambulance to the hospital to assist the Drexel Fire crew with the patient and provided necessary medical care throughout the transport.
With the help of other bystanders, they were able to lift the patient to the roadway where they awaited the arrival of first responders. Thanks to hero Adam Kroger and the helpful bystanders, the driver was safely removed from his vehicle and was able to receive the medical attention he needed.
Heroes Day Winners 2015
Firefighter Adam Kroger
On February 27th, 2015, firefighter Adam Kroger was heading eastbound on Interstate 10 near the Sonoita exit, when he witnessed a semi-tractor trailer crash into the median at highway speed. He pulled over and began to make his way over to the vehicle.
When he arrived at the vehicle, he saw that the cab had separated and fallen forward, while the front of the trailer had caught fire and exploded approximately 20 feet away. The driver was laying upward on the inside roof of his cab, conscious and alert with lacerations and a compound break to his right leg. Due to the brush fire that had started from the explosion of the trailer, it was important that the driver be removed from the vehicle and moved as far away as possible.
Deputy Adrian Gallo and Deputy Joe Serrano
On May 16th, 2015, the Pima County Sheriff’s Department received a call reporting a collision at the intersection of North Bopp Road and West Camino Verde. Two vehicles had collided head-on and were on fire. Deputy Adrian Gallo arrived on the scene and directed bystanders on how to help remove one of the victims who was still trapped inside his car, while he went to assist the other vehicle where an elderly female was trapped inside. He was able to cut her seatbelt, but due to the damage attained from the crash, he was not able to open the driver-side door. He attempted to pull her out from the passenger side, but this did not work either.
After these attempts, Deputy Joe Serrano arrived on the scene. His patrol vehicle was equipped with a winch, which they were able to use to pry open the driver’s door. The 69-year old woman was removed from her vehicle and transported to the hospital with life-threatening injuries where she stayed in critical condition. Deputy Gallo, who had suffered smoke inhalation, was also transported to a local hospital for treatment.
Officer Robert “Bobby” Kelly
On February 20th, 2015, off-duty Officer Robert “Bobby” Kelly and his wife, Stephanie Kelly, who is a registered nurse and has worked in emergency departments in Tucson, were driving down Houghton Road towards the I-10 on ramp when they noticed an SUV stopped in the middle of the Interstate. The vehicle had looked as it had been in a rollover accident due to the damage on the roof of the vehicle. As they approached the scene, Officer Kelly noticed smoke coming from the vehicle and proceeded to turn the vehicle off. When he walked to the other side of the vehicle, he noticed three bodies lying in the roadway. One of the bodies had suffered obvious fatal injuries, while the other two bodies were attended to by his wife and others who had stopped to help.
With the quick thinking and use of the tools on hand, these deputies were able to perform some heroic actions. With no regards to their own safety, they put the safety of others first and in the end were able to save this woman’s life.
Aaron Romero, Alexander Stewart, and Andrew Miles
On April 3rd, 2015, on the westbound frontage road of Interstate 10 between Cortaro and Twin Peaks Rd., Andrew Miles, Aaron Romero, and Alexander Stewart witnessed a rollover accident involving four teenagers. The teenagers’ vehicle had rolled over multiple times, until it had stopped in the canal upside down, where the water was moving at a rate of 25 cubic feet per second. They were able to get the three passengers out of the car and to the side of the road where they awaited first responders. The driver of the vehicle, Sabrina Montejano, was trapped underwater in the vehicle.
After many attempts to lift the car out of the water with no success, two of the bystanders brought their pick-up trucks to the sides of the vehicle, where they attached tow chains and straps to the car. Andrew Miles, a student at the University of Arizona and Alexander Stewart, a Sergeant attached to the DM rescue squadron, were able to lift the vehicle out of the water just enough so Sabrina’s head was above the water. Aaron Romero, an RN with extensive emergency medical training, was able to cut Sabrina out of her seatbelt and bring her to the side of the road. After realizing she had no pulse and was not breathing, Aaron immediately began CPR.
With the help of these citizen heroes, Sabrina survived and was able to return home from the hospital five days later, where she continued her recovery without any signs of permanent damage from the crash. If it were not for the lifesaving actions of these three individuals, those four teenagers would not be with us today.
Heroes Day Honorable Mentions 2015
Agent Jose Madrigal
On February 11th, 2015, Border Patrol Agent Jose Madrigal attended to a severely injured motorcyclist who was in a collision with a Honda SUV. The motorcycle rider, later identified as Eddie Grijalva, had visible trauma to his face and severe trauma to his right leg. After assessing the victim’s condition, he knew that he would need further medical assistance.
Border Patrol Agent Madrigal realized that Mr. Grijalva’s leg was partially severed from the body and was bleeding profusely. He then proceeded to apply a tourniquet to the injured leg in order to stop the rapid loss of bleeding. Agent Jose Madrigal attended to his emotional needs as well, by reassuring him and keeping him engaged to make sure he stayed conscious and alert until paramedics could arrive.
Thanks to Border Patrol Agent Jose Madrigal’s heroic actions, he was able to stop Mr. Grijalva’s heavy bleeding until the paramedics could arrive and assist him. Without these efforts, Eddie Grijalva would not be alive today.
Deputy Don Molchan
Pima County Sheriff’s Department
On April 23, 2015, Deputy Molchan of the Pima County Sheriff’s Department received a call involving a panicked 14 year old girl asking for help because her father was attempting to commit suicide. Upon arriving to the scene, Deputy Molchan was able to comfort and calm down the young girl to better understand the situation and get her father’s location. Inside of the home, the father was suspended from an electric cord attached to a support beam of the porch, along with the girl’s mother was who was holding on to his body. The father was unresponsive, not breathing, and appeared to be blue and purple. Molchan acted quickly by lifting the father upward to relieve the tension around his neck and eventually laid him down on the ground.
Using his training, Deputy Molchan began aiding the victim through chest compressions while also speaking to the father’s family to keep them calm. Eventually, the father began to gain color back to his skin and perform slow breathing. By the time the medical services arrived, the father was breathing at a normal rate and was transported to a hospital where he reached full recovery. In addition, Deputy Molchan contacted victim services to help support the family affected by the event.
Deputy Molchan demonstrated courage and quick decision-making during this difficult event. His commitment to the citizens of Pima County helped save a life and family from a traumatic experience. Therefore, he is recognized as a Tucson hero for his honorable actions on this day.
Firefighter Ryan Szach
On February 16th, 2015, on Highway 77 near Dripping Springs, off-duty firefighter, Ryan Szach, was traveling home with his fiancée from the White Mountains when they witnessed a motorcycle crash. The rider of the motorcycle was not wearing a helmet and had sustained major trauma from the accident. With the assistance of a first aid kit from a road crew, help from a doctor and a DPS officer who had also stopped to help, they were able to: maintain an airway, control the bleeding, and splint possible fractures while taking C-spine precautions. Along with stabilizing the rider, they were able to contact dispatch to launch a helicopter due to the immense trauma he had obtained.
They continued to assist by helping firefighters with the patient and waiting for the helicopter to arrive. Thanks to heroes Ryan Szach and others, they were able to get this motorcyclist the help he needed while the other first responders were on their way.
9 TPD officers respond to bank robbery in progress, Click on award headline above to read nomination letter their efforts and actions.
Officer Leanna Hitchcock & Sergeant Michael Humphries
Officer Leanna Hitchcock was on patrol in Operations Division South traveling east on Ajo Way approaching 2nd Avenue when she heard a vehicle horn repeatedly honking and a female driver screaming that her baby wasn't breathing. The child’s mother began driving east on Ajo way expecting Officer Hitchcock to escort her to the hospital.
Realizing that the child needed immediate assistance, Officer Hitchcock activated her vehicles emergency equipment and motioned for the mother to pull over near Ajo Way and Park Avenue. Officer Hitchcock ran up to the vehicle and requested the child. She immediately placed the baby in her arms and began life saving measures by administering chest compressions. Officer Hitchcock advised Communications of the incident and requested paramedics from the Tucson Fire Department to respond. Sergeant Michael Humphries heard Officer Hitchcock’s situation on the radio and responded to her location. After determining that there was no sign of life, Sergeant Humphries began mouth to mouth resuscitation on the 4-month old infant.
He and Officer Hitchcock continued administering CPR until they were relieved by Tucson Fire Department personnel. Due to Officer Hitchcock’s and Sergeant Humphries’ immediate response and training, the infant survived.
TSgt. Jeremy Pye
Army Special Operations
Technical Sergeant Jeremy Pye deployed in support of Army Special Operations Forces to Kandahar, Afghanistan. During his 6 month deployment, he conducted 61 combat missions, 23 on-foot dismounted. He disabled 18 Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) as the Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) team leader. He assisted in detained handling, enrolling 23 in the FBI system and employed 5 clandestine counter-insurgency programs helping to upset terrorist networks.
He was placed in imminent danger when an estimated 12-14 Taliban fighters engaged their unit from multiple elevated fighting positions within lethal range. TSgt Pye’s unit was fired upon by PKM and AK-47 machine guns with bullets impacting within 5 feet of dismounted patrol and impacting their vehicles to include Sergeant Pye’s position. He was exposed to over 25 near missiles of lethal enemy fire. Sergeant Pye identified the source of the enemy from his vehicle gunner position and exposed himself by exiting the vehicle to assist and launch 4 rounds from the hand held mortar on the enemy positions. During the course of fire, the mortar system became inoperable.
Sergeat Pye immediately retrieved a shoulder launcher from his vehicle and fired 54 separate rounds enabling friendly forces to maneuver on the enemy and simultaneously deny enemy insurgents any further advancement towards his unit and their Afghan partners. His actions are selfless and courageous.
Officer Brian Carr
Oro Valley Police Department
Early On February 21, 2014, Officer Brian Carr responded a fight in progress in the parking lot. Multiple witnesses observed an assualt taking place in a northside parking lot. Upon arrival, Officer Carr found the first victim on the ground with his attacker on top of him yelling and pointing in his face.
The officer quickly ordered the attacker to the ground at gun point, ending the physical assault that was in progress, and detained him. Officer Carr directed other officers to take custody of the assailant as he began to take life saving measures on the victim who had a significant stab wound to the his neck along with several broken ribs. Officer Carr stabilized the victim’s injuries as officers called for medical to respond. The victim was taken to UAMC where he underwent emergency surgery. Due to the quick actions of Officer Carr, the victim is in the process of recovering from his injuries in this incident.
Officer Kelly noticed another passenger in the front passenger seat who was alert and conscious, but had suffered a wound in his left arm that was bleeding heavily. He tried to wrap his belt around the victim’s arm, but this was ineffective and the heavy bleeding continued. Officer Kelly found metal tubing in the wreckage and was able to use this along with the belt to help slow the bleeding until other medical personnel could arrive. His wife Stephanie attended to the female on the side of the road by trying to open up her trachea and maintain her airway. The female unfortunately was unresponsive to these treatments.
Officer Kelly and his wife are true heroes, and due to their quick reactions to this incident they were able to provide these victims with their best chance of survival, given that there were no first responders on the scene.
Heroes Day Winners 2013
EMT Basic Jason Hamilton
Rural Metro Fire Department
On April 21, Jason Hamilton had just left a 24-hour shift as an Rural Metro EMT and was returning home after a mass-casualty accident on Interstate 10. During his drive home, he encountered a vehicle which was being driven erratically; Hamilton followed the vehicle with law enforcement on the phone. Ultimately, the vehicle crashed into a guard rail and and hung on the railing over a wash below.
He approached the vehicle and found an elderly woman inside with agonal respirations and a weak pulse. He and a bystander were able to extricate the woman; they opened the car door and the woman was now pulseless. Hamilton rendered CPR until EMS arrived to take over; they successfully got a pulse back. The woman was admitted to the ICU with a poor prognosis; the family elected to take her off life support.
“Regardless of the outcome, Jason made a selfless act having no hesitation to recognize and assist someone in need. Jason was mindful of the driver as well as the safety of other citizens in the rush hour traffic.”
Jason’s awareness and decisions as a first responder, despite having just left a 24 hour shift demonstrate his dedication and a service above self mentality deserving of his Heroes Day nomination.
U.S. Customers and Border Patrol Agent Michael Shick
Casa Grande Border Patrol
On April 13, Agent Shick initiated a suspicious vehicle stop on Route 15 in Southern Arizona. The driver attempted to evade arrest then veered off the road and hit a fence; the occupants began to flee when Schick observed the car had caught fire. He tried to extinguish the fire and called for help from Tohono O’odham Fire Dept. One of the individuals who had fled came back to tell Schick there were two people in the trunk of the burning car.
The flames were a foot tall and Schick approached the vehicle to find the trunk release. When he opened the trunk, 3 people were found inside the burning vehicle and were pulled to safety. Immediately afterwards, the gas tank exploded. Fortunately no one sustained significant injuries which no doubt would have resulted without the quick action of Agent Schick. The driver of the vehicle was later apprehended for alien smuggling.
“Without hesitation, Shick made his decision and put himself at considerable risk in order to save the lives of others.”
Officer Dan Rowan
Marana Police Dept.
Officer Rowan, a retired NYC Firefighter, 9-11 survivor is being honored as one of three Heroes Day award recipients. Beyond responding to the call as he has done in the past as a firefighter and today as a police officer, Dan Rowan also started a cross country fundraiser bicycle ride called “Thank You America” to honor the 343 firefighters who died on 9-11.
Since retiring from NYFD, he moved to Marana and became a police officer where he has worked since 2005. On April 11, 2013 while on routine patrol, he located the vehicle of a woman who said she pulled over to rest. Dan intuitively thought something was wrong and returned to check on her; she was now unconscious and there were narcotics/alcohol bottles in the car.
He rendered first aid and requested emergency aid. Later, Doctors said the woman would have died within minutes if he had not rendered care and called for help. His awareness and quick response saved the life of this young woman.
Officer Jobe Dickinson
Tucson Police Department
Officer Jobe Dickinson was dispatched to a report of an armed robbery and observed a vehicle that was believed to be involved in three other robbery incidents that occurred earlier in the night. After evading Officer Dickinson, the suspect collided with two other vehicles at an intersection.
Dickinson immediately responded to the area to assist at the scene and as he approached, saw four male occupants fleeing their vehicle. One of the suspects attempted to carjack another vehicle to make his escape. Officer Dickinson initiated a foot pursuit and coordinated the response of several other patrol units, capturing that suspect before he could victimize any other citizens.
Ultimately, three of the four suspects were captured that evening and the fourth was identified and captured on a later date. In addition, several items of evidence were recovered; including money that was taken in at least one robbery as well as weapons and clothing that were used during the other robberies.
Firefighter Ty Cobb was returning home on I-10 after working an overtime shift when he encountered traffic beginning to slow near the downtown area. The slowing was caused by a pick-up truck traveling the wrong way, entering the off ramp of Congress and colliding head on with a sedan.
As a result of the collision, one passenger was ejected and another was trapped in a burning car. Cobb instinctively rushed to render aid to the burning vehicle. Unable to get the doors open, he entered through the rear window and assessed the driver. With the help of other bystanders, he was able to free the door to remove the crash victim.
Cobb continued to render medical care, providing ventilations until additional personnel arrived at the scene. Cobb represented the very best of what a Firefighter should be, putting the lives of others before his own.
Agent Roberto Heredia
U.S. Border Patrol
Agent Roberto Heredia was involved in rescue which began with an alien arrest. The detainee reported that a companion was left near the Atascosa Mountains near Nogales, Arizona. The companion was suffering from heat related distress and was unable to walk.
Due to the extreme heat and treacherous terrain, the suspect was unwilling to lead agents to the location of the other alien. After an unsuccessful helicopter search, Heredia persisted and hiked up the mountains on one of the hottest days recorded in 2011. After a few hours, Heredia heard faint cries for help and notified a search crew.
With nowhere to land a helicopter, Heredia provided aid and carried the semi-conscious and combative alien back through the rugged terrain. His brave actions saved the victim’s life and Heredia proved to be an exemplary agent and leader.
SSgt Aaron Escalante
While stationed in Afghanistan, SSgt Aaron Escalante was called by the Afghan National Army to investigate a compound known to house top Taliban commanders. Without hesitation, he and his Military Working Dog, Mushe, entered the deadly site together.
After a thorough assessment, Escalante was able detect not only the location of hidden explosives but also an intricate web of terrorist activities supported by an arsenal of rockets, grenades and AK-47s.
After removing the dangerous materials, the compound was secured and suspended of all terrorist operations. Escalante’s heroism and valor proves he is an asset to our military.
Department of Public Safety
Dan Gutierrez, an officer for the Department of Public Safety got a call for the abduction of an infant on October 13, 2010.
His work on the Child Predator Apprehension Team prepared him to deal with the armed and dangerous offender.
After a violent confrontation, Gutierrez managed to rescue the child while keeping his partners safe.
Deputy Nicole Crowson
Pima County Sheriff's Department
Nicole Crowson, a deputy for Pima County Sheriff's Department was responding to a robbery on April 1st, 2011. The suspect fled the scene and his car collided with another vehicle carrying a family.
The impact of the crash sent the family's car through the garage of a nearby home and into a tree. With the accelerator pinned and smoke building, Crowson quickly pulled the family members out of the car and away from the flames.
Tucson Fire Department
Tyler Menke, a firefighter for Tucson Fire Department was on scene for a helicopter crash on July 28, 2010. The helicopter was on fire but Menke disappeared from sight as he walked into the flames.
He emerged carrying a man still connected to his seat and the victim was rushed to hospital. Although the victim later died, his family was able to say goodbye because of Menke's heroic actions.
We are proud to have Tyler Menke, Nicole Crowson and Dan Gutierrez as our 2011 recipients of "Hero of the Year."
Heroes Day Winners 2012
Heroes Day Winners 2011
Heroes Day Winners 2016
John Teachout and Christopher Olson
Oro Valley Police Department
Lieutenants John Teachout and Christopher Olson were traveling north on I-17 when they observed that there was a vehicle on the side of the road with smoke coming out of it. Teachout and Olson pulled over to see what was going on and if they could assist in any way.
After talking with the driver, they found out that, in her panicked state, she forgot her children in the car, strapped in their car seats. Teachout and Olson immediately ran to the car and removed the two children. Shortly after that the vehicle erupted in flames.