First Community Valor Awards Honors 12 Public Safety Personnel

Staff Report

The 2016 Public Safety Valor Awards, a new event introduced by the Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce, honored 12 public safety personnel for acts of heroism in central Hillsborough County over the past year. It was held September 7 at The Regent in Riverview.
The program, sponsored by Platinum Bank, featured the following awards:

Valor Awards – The highest award for valor and heroism were awarded to Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) Deputies Ryan Jones and Ian Genevish for preventing a suicide off the 50th Street Bridge, and Fish and Wildlife Conservation Officer Gregory Patterson for rescuing three women from an overturned personal watercraft in the water near the Gandy Bridge. Sadly, Officer Patterson passed away earlier this year, in a tragic bicycling accident when he was off duty.

Lifesaving Award – In recognition of official acts taken to save a life in a situation where an individual’s life is in jeopardy, either medically or physically were awarded to:

Fish and Wildlife Conservation Officer Richard Dearborn for helping Officer Patterson in rescuing the three women near the Gandy Bridge.

Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Master Detective Jeffery Harris for rescuing a child from a dog attack; Hillsborough County Fire Rescue Captain David Macaluso for rescuing a man trapped inside a gasoline tanker, overcome by fumes; Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Deputy John Skjefte for saving a 2-year-old from drowning in a pool; Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Deputy Cabot Brown from saving a woman from drowning in a hotel bathtub; and Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Deputies Daniel Jones and Jeffery Stout for rescuing a woman from carbon monoxide poisoning in her garage.

Award of Merit – In recognition of work on projects over time, or which required exceptional dedication and perseverance, was presented to Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Deputy Joshua Boyer, a Community Resource Deputy assigned the role of Homeless Initiative Liaison for District II, which includes the Greater Brandon area, since 2014. By linking to available resources in the area, Deputy Boyer has been able to change countless lives by helping those willing to accept a new start people to move beyond a crime based life.

A tribute to the late HCSO Deputy John Robert Kotfila who was tragically killed on March 16 by a wrong-way driver, was given by Major Robert Bullara, his commanding officer. Kotfila was the 16th deputy to give his life in the line of duty.

The Greater Brandon Chamber represents more than 800 businesses and nonprofits in the greater Brandon area. For more information, visit www.brandonchamber.com.