California Gov. Jerry Brown and state Attorney General Xavier Becerra presented Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor awards to five officers from the California Highway Patrol and the Yuba County Sheriff’s Department, all of whom went above and beyond the call of duty.
The Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor Act of 2003 gives the governor authority to award medals to public safety officers who are recognized by the attorney general for extraordinary valor above and beyond the call of duty. Becerra’s office receives nominations from public safety agencies that are then reviewed by the Medal of Valor Review Board, which makes a recommendation to the AG.
The officers who received the award are:
Yuba County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Sheriff, Dan Harris, who helped fellow officers who had been wounded in a drug-investigation shootout, get outside the residence and began providing life-saving measures to both deputies, while also updating the sheriff’s dispatch and responding units with critical information. Deputies Bronson and Everhart were airlifted to an area hospital for treatment, and are both still in recovery.
CHP Officers Phil Agdeppa, Pete Gavitte, Whitney Lowe, and Chad Millward. The 4 officers were involved in the brave rescue of 41 residents from the recent Napa fires. Despite the firestorm’s 80-mile-per-hour wind gusts and extreme downdrafts and updrafts, the officers decided to fly into the smoke and land near the line of vehicles attempting to leave the Atlas Peak area.
Due to the location of the fire and its rapid, increasing size, many residents of the Atlas Peak area were trapped above the fire line. The Golden Gate Air Operations crew monitored radio traffic from CalFire calling for evacuations, but as CalFire resources were unable to reach the Atlas Peak residents, Officers Gavitte and Lowe used the helicopter’s public address system, siren, and searchlight to alert the sleeping residents.
They requested help from CHP Northern Division Air Operations, and Officers Chad Millward and Phil Agdeppa responded to the call. The two helicopter crews began coordinating rescues and identifying drop-off locations as fires continuously overran the landing zones, together saving 41 lives. Aerial surveillance from the night of the rescues shows the rescue area was completely overrun by fire.