Public Safety Officers Honored at 2016 Hero Awards

More than 20 law enforcement officers, public safety officials and other emergency services personnel were honored this week at a special Hero Awards held by the North County Business Chamber.

Two California Highway Patrol Officers were honored for helping save the life of a young woman who threatened to jump off of a highway overpass. Officers Kerry Comphel and Jason Hughes each grabbed a hold of the woman to keep her from falling into traffic.

In the span of 10 minutes, California State Lifeguards Cole Magro and Jeff Knapp worked together to rescue 19 people who were at risk of drowning in a massive rip current in Carlsbad. They were honored for preventing what could have been multiple fatalities.

Escondido Police Officer Patrick Hand was honored for his work to solve a series of indecent exposure crimes. Hand got a positive identification from all of the victims and arrested a suspect.

The Rincon Fire Department Paramedic team of James Banister and Scott Ferguson were credited for saving four lives in seven months. Banister and Ferguson were honored because few teams have the number of saves in a short period of time.

U.S. Secret Service Supervisory Investigative Analyst Blair Keene tracked down a SeaWorld employee who was under investigation for stealing $818,000 through an elaborate embezzlement scheme.

Northwestern Division Juvenile Services Officer Bob Briggs covered 30 schools across four districts. Even on a day off, Officer Briggs went to work to help a suicidal student who he knew had access to guns.

San Diego Police Department Northern Division, Officer Jacob Vasinda helped in the arrest of a suspect wanted for violently attacking and injuring an 88-year-old business owner.

Deputy Probation Officer Cyrus Rust has assisted every division in the Escondido Police Department and has helped in several high-profile cases, including homicides.

In Valley Center, San Diego County Sheriff’s Deputy John Malan worked with his partners to arrest more than 50 people and confiscate over 20 guns, including high-powered assault rifles.

SDSO Deputy Jeffrey Chu is credited with saving the life of a young woman who was being held against her will and forced to work as a prostitute.

A member of the Joint Effort Program between the City of Escondido and Immigration & Customs Enforcement, Deportation Officer Mario Vidrio is credited with identifying a woman who had been stabbed multiple times and left for dead. Her attacker was arrested within 12 hours of the crime.

Detectives Cesar Delgado and Mark Green tracked down stolen items from San Diego City College in an investigation that led to the arrest of a university employee. As a team, they’re credited with 30 arrests in more than 60 cases.

Murrieta Fire Department Battalion Chief Steve Kean was honored for “leading by example.”

DEA Special Agent Ryan Ford of the San Diego Field Divisions OCDETF Strike Force put in hundreds of hours of undercover surveillance resulting in the arrest of 11 members of a heroin drug ring.

San Diego Lifeguard Jordan Gaudet was honored for rescuing a family visiting San Diego and swimming in Mission Beach on the Fourth of July. As part of the rescue, he moved four victims to shore safely without any of his own equipment

In an investigation of a man accused of trafficking assault weapons in the North County, ATF Special Agents Scott Brahin and Sean Becker stumbled onto much more. The agents saved the life of a 15-year-old runaway while disrupting an illegal firearms operation.

Oceanside Lifeguard Nicholas “Kaipo” Kelley helped save a man’s life through early AED activation and his ability to remain calm.

SDPD Northern Division Officers Dan Neifer and Josh Clabough started a program using GPS and radio technology to stop bike thefts. During the first year, 60 felony cases were prosecuted connected to their program.

Escondido Captains Dan Revere and Tyler Batson were recognized for their work improving safety training for all firefighters operating in the hazard zone.

DEA Officer Jason Arnotti led the Narcotics Task Force to disrupt a drug trafficking organization based in Carlsbad was distributing large quantities of methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana and pharmaceuticals around the county and throughout the U.S.

Cal Fire Captain Steve VanHeertum suffered burns to both hands and forearms when he helped rescue a victim in a head-on traffic collision. The captain was on his way home at the time he spotted the crash on a remote stretch of Highway 78 between Ramona and Santa Ysabel.

NBC 7’s Omari Fleming spoke with the son of fallen officer Jonathan “JD” De Guzman, who says life without his father has been tough, but he is fortunate for the support he is receiving from the community.
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