When Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Deputy, Douglas Duvall, began his shift on the evening of February 28, 2013, he was ready to fulfill his duty to serve and protect. What he did not know was that his actions of heroism that night would not be quickly forgotten.
Duvall was awarded the Medal of Heroism by Florida State Governor, Rick Scott, who explained that the award is given in recognition of law enforcement officers, correctional officers, firefighters and first responders who distinguish themselves by risking their lives by going above and beyond the call of duty.
“Every day, members of the Sheriff’s Office see the words “To Serve and Protect” on the side of the patrol cars and on that evening, Deputy Douglas Duvall epitomized the phrase,” Scott said. “Family members at the scene have called him a hero and an angel from heaven.”
The incident, which made national headlines, involved a deadly, massive sinkhole measuring close to 30 ft. across at the top and much more below the surface at 240 Faithway Dr. in Seffner and claimed one of the bedrooms of the home as well as the life of 37-year-old, Jeff Bush.
Deputies and members of Hillsborough County Fire Rescue were immediately dispatched to the scene, among them Duvall, who was first to arrive and was met with hysterical family members screaming at him and telling him that another family member was “in the hole” trying to locate the body of the first family member who had been “swallowed” by the ground.
With little regard for his own personal safety and placing his own life in imminent danger, Duvall entered the residence and was just in time to save the life of Jeremy Bush who was inside the hole looking for his brother, only needing to be rescued himself.
Just in time, the self sacrificing sheriff’s deputy reached out and grabbed Jeremy by his wrists pulling him to safety. The men reportedly ran from the room as the sinkhole widened, taking with it the rest of the furniture. “Deputy Duvall and Jeremy Bush escaped certain death by just seconds,” Scott said, adding that Duvall is very deserving of this prestigious award.
HCSO Major Clyde Eisenberg agreed and thanked Scott for recognizing Duvall’s efforts when he said, “First responders often go without recognition and in this case recognizing deputy Duvall is more than appropriate.”
For more information about HCSO, please visit www.hcso.tampa.fl.us.