Sheriff Bill Brown announces medal winners at Annual Recognition Awards Program, Sept. 21.

Sheriff Bill Brown announces medal winners at Annual Recognition Awards Program, Sept. 21. (Courtesy photo)

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office congratulates its employees and community members who were honored at an Annual Recognition Awards Program and Luncheon held recently at the Earl Warren Showgrounds.

The award recipients were recognized for their exemplary service during 2021. Lunch was provided by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Benevolent Posse which has consistently hosted this event as a gesture of support and thanks to the honorees.

The awards presentations began with the Certificate of Merit, presented to private civilian citizens who perform superior accomplishments that result in significant contributions to the efficient operation of the Sheriff’s Office and furthers its mission.

Elvira Carrera, Ayres Mitchell and Julian Paley were honored for the lifesaving efforts they took on July 16, 2021, when they rescued an unconscious man from the swimming pool at the Santa Ynez YMCA. Sheriff Bill Brown commended them for their swift action, exceptional teamwork and their commitment to the wellbeing of others.

Also receiving a Certificate of Merit was Pat Crull, American Medical Response (AMR) Ssupervisor, who was honored for actions he took on May 31, 2021, where he intervened in a fight between a theft suspect and a victim who was trying to recover his stolen cell phone.

Crull was thanked for his prompt actions, which prevented further injury to either party, and for his assistance in the recovery of stolen property.

Lucas Lamoutte received a Certificate of Merit for swift action he took on Feb. 25, 2021, when he came to the aid of a loss prevention officer. Lamoutte was commended for his courage when he selflessly helped the loss prevention officer, and for pursuing and overpowering the suspect, even when threatened with a potentially deadly weapon.

Nineteen Sheriff’s deputies received a commendation for naloxone saves where they administered Narcan in a manner that resulted in the reversal of a suspected opioid overdose and prevented a victim from dying. The deputies include:

Sheriff’s Sgt. Matthew Banks, Sheriff’s Sgt. Joshua Cockrell, Sheriff’s Sgt. Eric Delgadillo, Sheriff’s Sgt. Thomas Green, Sheriff’s Sgt. Travis Henderson, Sheriff’s Deputy-Special Duty Dave Frawley, Sheriff’s Deputy-Special Duty Julio Gutierrez, Sheriff’s Deputy-Special Duty Doug Jones, Sheriff’s Deputy-Special Duty Matthew West.

Also, Sheriff’s Deputy Shawn Banks, Sheriff’s Deputy Anna Carranco, Sheriff’s Deputy Thomas Fournier, Sheriff’s Deputy Garrett Gish, Sheriff’s Deputy Christian Harrington, Sheriff’s Deputy Guadalupe Ibarra, Sheriff’s Deputy Kody Kiesow, Sheriff’s Deputy Damien Marquez.

Also, Custody Deputy Maxwell Moore, Sheriff’s Deputy Shane Moore, Sheriff’s Deputy Christopher Morales, Sheriff’s Deputy Gregory Plett, and Sheriff’s Deputy Benjamin Sanabria.

The Sheriff’s Office Coroner’s Bureau was honored with a Sheriff’s Unit Citation for extraordinary dedication to duty, adaptability, resiliency, and teamwork for their work during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the spike in overdose-related deaths, and their work on several high-profile death investigations.

Brown presented the Lifesaving award to members of the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office, members of allied agencies or civilians who perform CPR or other lifesaving first aid procedures upon ill or injured persons, resulting in the individual surviving their immediate injury or medical emergency. Honorees included:

Custody Deputy Arturo Alvarez, Sheriff’s Deputy James Duncan, retired Army Medic James “Russ” Sandy, Custody Deputy-Special Duty Livdi Escobedo, Custody Deputy Cody Goodwin, Custody Deputy Bertin Hernandez, Custody Deputy Trenten Howell, Custody Deputy David Villavicencio.

Also, Sheriff’s Sgt. Neil Gowing, Benton County Washington firefighter Manny Estrella, Sheriff’s Deputy John Froelicher, Sheriff’s Deputy Christopher Morales, Park Ranger Duke Loster, Park Ranger Anthony Munoz, Sheriff’s Sgt. Dan Nelson, Detective Andre Long, Detective Matthew Cianciarulo.

Also, Fish and Wildlife warden Israel Magana, Fish and Wildlife warden Max Schad, Deputy Matt Dawson, Sheriff’s Deputy Garrett Ross, Sheriff’s Deputy Brett White, and Sheriff’s Deputy Ross Vantassel.

Computer Systems Specialist Kristy Glisson and Custody Lt. William Wolf were awarded the Meritorious Service Medal for their outstanding efforts, leadership and dedication to the Northern Branch Jail project and its successful completion, and to the mission of the Sheriff’s Office.

A second Meritorious Service Medal went to Custody Deputy-Special Duty Anthony Delira, and Custody Deputies Tonia Bennet, Cody Goodwin, Roberto Gutierrez and Paul Otero for their quick thinking, bravery and effective teamwork during their response to an altercation at the Main Jail Medium Security Facility.

Sheriff’s Deputy John Valenti was presented with a Meritorious Service Medal for his integrity, professionalism, mentorship and expertise in the fight to keep area streets and highways safe. In 2021, Valenti apprehended a total of 130 people for driving under the influence.

Brown awarded the Distinguished Service Medal to Sheriff’s Office members who have demonstrated exceptional achievement in assigned duties with loyalty and dedication over a prolonged period. This award is not meant to recognize length of service, but is intended to honor sustained distinguished performance above and beyond normal job requirements.

Recipients were Sheriff’s Detective Chad Biedinger and Sheriff’s Pilot Loren Courtney.

The final awards were the Sheriff’s Medal of Valor and the Exceptional Citizen Award, presented to Sheriff’s Deputy David Ashley, Sheriff’s Deputy Rockwell Ellis and John Ornelas.

The Medal of Valor is the Sheriff’s Office’s highest award and is awarded to individuals who distinguish themselves by displaying an act/s of extraordinary or outstanding personal bravery, or heroism intelligently performed with knowledge of the risk involved, above and beyond the call of duty, in the face of imminent and personal life-threatening peril and in an official capacity.

The Medal of Valor may also be awarded to a member of the Sheriff’s Office who, through the course of events, is prevented from accomplishing such an act/s by either a disabling injury or death.

The Exceptional Civilian Award is the department’s highest civilian honor. It is presented to private citizens for distinguished service involving an act of bravery at great risk of personal injury, or for major or sustained contributions or meritorious service which furthers the department’s mission.

On Nov.  9, 2021, property manager John Ornelas was home when other residents alerted him to a fire in a nearby apartment. Ornelas ran to the apartment and found it filled with smoke. He knew the resident was home and had recently undergone surgery.

Ornelas tried several times to enter the apartment, but the smoke was too thick, and he could see flames inside. He called out for the resident, who called back to him, confirming his grave fear that she was still in the apartment.

Ornelas ran back downstairs, retrieved a fire extinguisher and gave it to another resident who arrived to assist while he called 9-1-1. Ornelas returned to the apartment and tried again to enter, this time with the extinguisher; however it was having little impact on the fire, and he was unable to go inside without being overwhelmed by the heat and smoke.

Sheriff’s deputies David Ashley and Rockwell Ellis were the first to arrive on the scene. Ornelas directed them to the burning apartment, where they saw black smoke billowing from the doorway, but they could not see inside.

Ellis tried to lean inside to search the apartment, but was overwhelmed by the heat and smoke. Ashley dropped to the ground, and through a clear layer of air about a foot and a half off the floor, he saw a woman down on the floor about 20 feet inside the apartment.

Ashley held his breath and crawled along the floor to the woman. When he reached her, he saw that her clothing was on fire, and that she was unconscious. He patted the flames out on her clothing and began crawling out of the apartment, pulling the unconscious woman behind him.

When he was almost out of the building, Ashley took a breath and immediately felt the effects of the smoke and hot air. He had difficulty breathing and started to get dizzy. Ellis saw what was happening and then entered the apartment and pulled both Ashley and the woman to safety outside.

Ornelas, Ashley and Ellis recognized the gravity of the situation and the immediate danger to the resident of the apartment. They showed extraordinary bravery in the face of imminent and personal peril, which ultimately resulted in the preservation of life.

For their lifesaving and heroic actions that day, Sheriff’s Deputy David Ashley, and Sheriff’s Deputy Rockwell Ellis were awarded the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office’s highest honor, the Medal of Valor.

For his extraordinary efforts and tremendous courage, John Ornelas was awarded the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office’s highest civilian honor, the Sheriff’s Exceptional Civilian Award.