Two San Diego Sheriff’s Deputies received the state’s highest public safety award for rescuing Lakeside hikers from a wildfire last year.
Gov. Jerry Brown awarded Medals of Valor to Deputies Scott Bligh and Gary Kneeshaw on Wednesday along with 11 other officers in California.
Deputies Kneeshaw and Bligh airlifted two hikers stranded on a cliff during an Aug. 2010 fire in Lakeside.
With Deputy Bligh in the cockpit, Deputy Kneeshaw lifted one hiker, named Meg Rippy, into the helicopter. The helicopter then had to abort the mission due to a steep drop-off and winds, leaving the second hiker, Andre Doria, still stranded.
Deputy Kneeshaw stayed with Doria as the flames approached until the helicopter could come back. The flames were only 10 feet away from Deputy Kneeshaw and Doria when Deputy Bligh returned with the helicopter.
Deputy Bligh lifted off with Deputy Kneeshaw standing unsecured on the skid for the whole flight, according to a statement from the governor’s office.
“These officers embody bravery and selflessness and we thank them for their courageous acts in the face of tremendous danger,” said Governor Brown in the statement. “Their actions set an example for all Californians.”