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Valor Awards Recipients

February 19, 2002

Great Falls/McLean/Vienna Times Staff

The Fairfax Chamber of Commerce, along with the Board of Supervisors and public safety agencies, announce the annual Valor Awards for those who serve and protect the community.

Sgt. Thomas L. Munday Jr.
Police Officer First Class Jason A. Long
Fairfax County Police Dept.
Silver Medals of Valor

Long was dispatched to an unknown situation last November following a woman's frantic 911 call for help.

Long arrived to find rescue personnel waiting outside with the young woman who made the call. He entered the house and attempted to determine what was going on. He could hear the sounds of someone being hit and screaming coming from behind a locked bedroom door.

Fearing for the safety of those inside, Long knocked and announced his presence. Someone inside the bedroom yelled, "Don't come in; he has a gun." Long drew his weapon and took cover.

Munday arrived and the two officers took positions by the bedroom door and waited for the arrival of more backup. The confrontation inside the bedroom escalated to such a fierce level that Munday determined entry should be made immediately to preserve the lives of those inside.

Munday then kicked open the bedroom door and spotted a young man and an older woman huddled on the floor holding each other. Munday followed their gazes and carefully rounded a corner to find an older man standing with a gun to his own head. As soon as Munday saw him, the man pulled the trigger and shot himself.

Munday immediately secured the weapon and called for rescue personnel. As paramedics worked on the man, Munday and Long noticed the woman had begun to exhibit signs of a serious medical problem. They assisted her and called for more help. Both elderly patients were taken to the hospital where the man subsequently died. Due to the extreme stress of the situation, the woman's blood pressure had dropped precipitously, and she had gone into shock, but she fully recovered.

Investigation revealed that the man with the gun was the estranged husband of the older woman and the father of the young man. He had arrived earlier that day, forced his way into the house, and pledged to kill them before committing suicide.

Master Police Officer Francis T. Noonan III
Police Officer First Class Travis L. Heiden
Fairfax County Police Department
Silver Medals of Valor

The Greenville County, S.C., sheriff's office alerted Fairfax police on March 8, 2001, that Michael J. Hilderbrand was wanted for the triple homicide of his wife and two young children.

Hilderbrand had been investigated in this area before for a telephone threat case involving his ex-wife and two young children who reside in northern Fairfax.

Fairfax police established a constant watch on his ex-wife's residence and coordinated with a School Resource Officer to ensure the children's safety at school. Hilderbrand's ex-wife was also assisted in making arrangements to stay at an undisclosed location until he was apprehended.

Later that morning, while maintaining a lookout at the ex-wife's residence, Noonan spotted Hilderbrand and his vehicle. Realizing Hilderbrand was an armed, homicidal, wanted felony fugitive, and having been given information that Hilderbrand was possibly in possession of explosives, Noonan calmly coordinated backup units to assist him in a traffic stop.

Noonan followed Hilderbrand's vehicle and performed a traffic stop on an on-ramp to the Dulles Toll Road. Backed up by three detectives, Noonan approached the vehicle. Hilderbrand suddenly sped off, and Noonan returned to his cruiser and initiated a pursuit.

Since Noonan had apprised officers via radio of the traffic stop, several officers, including a helicopter, were in position to provide immediate support in the pursuit. The pursuit quickly reached high speeds during the morning rush-hour drive.

Heiden, who was off-duty and en route for a court appearance when he learned of the pursuit, positioned himself at the Fairfax County Parkway and the Dulles Toll Road to assist. As the pursuit passed his location, he joined the chase.

Hilderbrand then cut over to the Dulles Access Road, which has no exits until the parking lots at Dulles Airport. Noonan and Heiden attempted to coordinate a precision crash or bumping in order to stop Hilderbrand as the pursuit entered the confines of the Dulles Airport Terminal facilities.

After two unsuccessful attempts, Heiden made contact with Hilderbrand's vehicle, quickly terminating the pursuit as Hilderbrand's sport utility vehicle drifted off to the side of the road, flipped two times and righted itself without hitting any other vehicles.

Nine officers tactically surrounded Hilderbrand's car. When their commands to Hilderbrand were met with no response, the officers descended upon him and removed him from the car.

Not knowing Hilderbrand's medical status, the officers handcuffed him. A tremendous amount of blood and two fully loaded handguns, one of which was cocked, were visible on the front seat. The officers summoned rescue personnel because Hilderbrand had a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head. Hilderbrand died at the scene.

Firefighter Craig S. Furneisen
Fairfax County Fire & Rescue Dept.
Bronze Medal of Valor

In August of last year while vacationing with his family at a North Carolina beach, Firefighter Craig Furneisen observed three swimmers in the ocean who appeared to be struggling against the choppy surf. Realizing the swimmers were in danger, and without regard to his own personal safety, Furneisen entered the water to assist. His family recognized that there were no lifeguards on duty in this area, and prepared to assist not only the three endangered swimmers, but also Furneisen in the event that he too became a victim.

Reaching the now tiring group, Furneisen first grabbed the youngest child and swam him to safety. After leaving the boy with his sister, Furneisen returned to the water to assist the remaining father and son to shore.

After recuperating on shore for a length of time, the father approached Furneisen and thanked him for saving their lives, saying that he alone did not have the strength remaining to save his sons.

Detective Abbas A. Tabatabaie
Fairfax County Police Dept.
Silver Medal of Valor

Detective Donald R. Bateman
Fairfax County Police Dept.
Bronze Medal of Valor

In March of last year, Detective Abbas Tabatabaie was at the Mount Vernon District Station when he received a phone call from a woman who was helping her niece file a stalking complaint against her estranged boyfriend. As Tabatabaie was talking to the women on the telephone, he heard the boyfriend break into the apartment. Tabatabaie immediately called 911 and relayed the information. Tabatabaie and Detective Donald Bateman drove to the apartment while a Public Safety Communications dispatcher gathered information from two call takers and deployed additional officers.

Once on the scene, both detectives took positions by the front door where they heard a woman screaming for help and pleading for them to rescue her. Tabatabaie kicked open the apartment door and both detectives entered. Bateman spotted a woman with a toddler and guided them out of the apartment to safety. The detectives walked down a hallway toward the sound of voices. Suddenly, shots rang out, hitting the walls behind the detectives. Realizing they were under fire, both detectives took cover by the entrance of the apartment and radioed for additional officers and rescue personnel to respond.

Tabatabaie and Bateman heard a woman screaming for help inside the apartment, and called to her to come toward them. A few moments later, a woman appeared near the front door suffering gunshot wounds to her head, shoulder and hand.

Tabatabaie told the woman to come to him, but she said she was unable to see, Tabatabaie gave up his position of cover to go to the woman and guide her to safety.

Second Lieutenant James N. Tracy
Fairfax County Office of the Sheriff
Bronze Medal of Valor

In July of last year, Second Lieutenant James Tracy had just completed a special assignment and was traveling toward his home. He was driving his cruiser westbound on a busy section of Interstate 66 when he saw a large, tandem-axle dump truck towing a heavy equipment trailer in the same lane approximately 50 yards ahead. Both vehicles were ascending a long incline when the trailer detached from the dump truck and swerved out of control. The trailer veered right, struck the right-shoulder guard rail, and came to an apparent halt, blocking the two slower lanes of travel.

Tracy activated his cruiser's emergency equipment to alert oncoming traffic to the hazard ahead. At this time, all westbound traffic was able to avoid the trailer and slowing dump truck. Tracy pulled his cruiser behind the trailer. To his surprise, the trailer pulled away from the guard rail and started rolling east in the westbound service lane, gaining speed as it descended the long hill.

Tracy placed himself and his cruiser between the rolling trailer and oncoming traffic. Driving in reverse at speeds up to 25 mph, Tracy attempted to clear a path for the runaway trailer, avoiding oncoming traffic while tracking the direction of the trailer. Both vehicles were now traveling eastbound on the westbound shoulder lane of I-66. The trailer gained more speed as it descended the hill, heading toward the travel lanes of oncoming traffic.

Tracy made a split-second decision to stop the trailer before it caused a disaster on the highway. He positioned his vehicle directly in the path of the oncoming trailer and allowed it to collide with his cruiser, stopping the trailer in the roadway before it could enter westbound traffic.

Master Technician Jeffrey T. Wharton
Firefighter Richard S. Slepetz
Bronze Medal of Valor

Lt. Michael P. Regan
Certificate of Valor

Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Dept.

In July 2001, Rescue Company 439, with a crew consisting of Regan, Wharton and Slepetz, was dispatched to a work site in western Fairfax County where two workers were trapped in a long and narrow eight-foot-deep trench, which had partially collapsed.

One of the victims, covered in dirt with only a portion of his upper body exposed, was showing signs of deterioration with labored breathing.

No response could be elicited from the second victim, who was completely covered, and was later found to have succumbed and died while trapped in the heavily compacted soil.

The crew began digging with shovels and bars to free the first victim. Then Regan had a backhoe operator carefully remove some of the collapsed soil.

With more soil removed, the partially trapped victim's breathing improved.

Continued aggressive digging with hand shovels by Wharton and Slepetz, assisted by construction workers on the scene, enabled them to free the first victim and move him to safety to the care of arriving paramedics.

Technician Kat Gaines
Fairfax County Fire & Rescue
Certificate of Valor

Gaines was on her way to a part-time job at Reagan National Airport the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, after working a 24-hour shift at Fire Station 16 in Clifton.

Her commute to the airport took her south on Route 110, in front of the parking lots of the Pentagon. As she approached the parking lots, she saw a low-flying jetliner strike the top of nearby telephone poles. She then heard the plane power up and plunge into the Pentagon.

Gaines pulled over and ran toward the fiery crash scene. Moving in as close as she could, Gaines helped direct people filing out of the wreckage to safety. Injuries ranged from smoke inhalation to severe burns. One man said both his arms were burned and he was blinded. Gaines told him to grab her ponytail so she did not touch his burned arms and led him to safety.

In the parking lot, Gaines identified herself to a military nurse and they established a triage area. Gaines went back to the hot zone to assist more patients. As Fire and EMS units arrived, Gaines was able to get equipment to help more people. After more than five hours, all viable patients had been treated and transported.

Lt. Michael P. Graham
Fairfax County Fire & Rescue Dept.
Certificate of Valor

Graham was the officer in charge of Truck 8, which arrived simultaneously with Engine 8, in response to a kitchen fire in a multi-story garden apartment building last April.

Graham noticed three people in a fourth-floor window, which was enveloped in heavy black smoke. Graham was concerned they might jump if rescue actions were not taken quickly. He directed his driver to raise the aerial ladder to the window while he and his other crew members raised an extension ladder.

Graham instructed the man, woman and child to wait until he came up the ladder for them. He instructed the man to wait until he was able to get the woman and child down to safety. Once Graham got the child situated on the ladder, he instructed him to descend to the ground. Graham was hesitant to follow the child down because he was afraid the two adults would jump onto the ladder. The man was trying to push his way out ahead of the others.

Graham had to swing himself over the side of his extension ladder, bracing himself against the windowsill, to allow the woman to get down. Graham convinced the man to stay put until the aerial ladder was in place.

All three were treated on the scene and transported to the hospital for further treatment.

Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Dept. commendation recipients
Certificate of Valor
Technician Kristin A. Wallace

In February 2001, Wallace was traveling by car with her husband and happened upon the wreckage of a vehicle shortly after a crash. While Wallace's husband contacted the 911 dispatch center, she went to assist the injured.

Wallace returned to her car briefly to tell her husband someone was trapped in the wreckage, and to relay the need for paramedics and a helicopter.

When Police Capt. James Ault arrived on the scene, he found that a Jeep had struck a sedan broadside with significant impact, forcing the vehicle across several lanes of traffic.

Without the benefit of personal protective equipment, Wallace entered the severely damaged vehicle to attend to and remain with the injured and bloody victim.

She told Ault the victim was unconscious, in severe respiratory distress, and was developing a tension pneumothorax, a life-threatening complication if left untreated.

After on-scene medics confirmed the assessment, immediate needle-chest decompression was initiated with marked improvement in the patient's condition.

After exiting the damaged car, Wallace continued to care for the victim, providing paramedics with a full and accurate assessment of the patient until rescue crews transferred the victim to a helicopter for transport to the hospital.

Fairfax County Office of the Sheriff commendation recipients
Bronze Medal of Valor
Master Deputy Sheriff Redic L. Morris

In September 2001, at the intersection of Judicial Drive, Master Deputy Sheriff Redic Morris observed a male passenger in a minivan arguing with the female driver. The man was attempting to jump out while the van was still moving.

Morris pursued the vehicle and the van stopped. Once the male passenger exited, he moved toward Morris' cruiser, becoming hostile and aggressive.

The man suddenly reached inside his coat pocket and Morris ordered him to stop, suspecting he had a weapon. The man continued to move forward, shouting, "I haven't had my medications today; come on!" The man then quickly removed his hand from his pocket and placed it behind his back.

Morris drew his service weapon and repeatedly ordered the man to show his hands. The man, ignoring the orders, continued closer, shouting, "Do it ...go ahead, do it!"

The sound of two Fairfax County Police motorcycles briefly distracted the man, allowing Morris to see the man's back and both hands. Realizing there was no weapon, Morris holstered his service weapon and drew his baton and deployed pepper spray to the man's face after the man charged forward without warning. This time the man complied with police.

During a later interview, the man said he wanted the deputy to shoot him because he was having serious family problems and no longer wanted to live.

Public Safety Communicator I Lorraine C. Fells-Danzer
Fairfax County Police Dept.
Bronze Medal of Valor

In November 2000, Lorraine Fells-Danzer, public safety communicator I, was driving to work on Interstate 66 when cars in front of her began careening to the left and right in an effort to avoid something in the roadway.

Fells-Danzer saw a pickup truck smashed into the guard rail and a compact car traveling in a circle, in reverse gear, on the interstate. She immediately pulled over to the shoulder of the road and ran to catch the runaway car, which had begun to slow.

As other traffic whizzed past her, swerving in an effort to avoid a collision, she pulled open the driver's door of the moving car and shook the driver, who appeared to be regaining consciousness.

She then managed to get her foot inside the car and jam on the brake pedal as she loosened the driver's seat belt and struggled to bring the car to a stop.

She then used her cell phone to call 911 Prince William County dispatchers and waited until rescue personnel arrived.

Master Deputy Sheriff Thomas D. Carter
Fairfax County Office of the Sheriff
Bronze Medal of Valor

In July 2000, Master Deputy Sheriff Thomas Carter was on duty at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center when he was detailed to provide escort and security at the construction site of the new addition. The five-story building was in the final stages of construction.

Carter was on the roof of the building with a construction worker who was cleaning and repairing the side of the structure. The worker connected his rope and locking device and started over the side. As he began to descend, the worker realized that his rapelling device was not locked in, and he started to fall. Grasping the edge of the roof was the only thing that kept him from plummeting 115 feet to the ground.

When Carter saw what happened, he leaned over the edge of the roof, without the protection of a harness or safety device, and grabbed the man's arm just as he began to lose his grip.

Carter then reached down along the side of the building, while still holding on to the man with one arm, and secured the rope's locking device, so the worker could safely continue his descent.

Private First Class Clifton Cooley
Fairfax County Office of the Sheriff
Bronze Medal of Valor

In February 2000, while off duty, Private First Class Clifton Cooley was driving on Route 234 in Prince William County when he saw a van off the road, turned over on its roof and smashed into a large tree.

Cooley pulled over and ran to the vehicle to locate its occupants. Finding the driver unconscious, he opened the driver's door to check the man's vital signs; the man was breathing but injured, and was wedged into the seat.

After several attempts, Cooley was able to revive the man, who was extremely disoriented and upset. He was comforting the man when he heard a crackling sound coming from the front of the van and noticed smoke coming from the van's hood.

Cooley ran back to the road, flagged down a passing truck and borrowed a fire extinguisher. But, even after the extinguisher was emptied, the flames continued to spread. Cooley then decided to enter the van, working quickly to free the driver from the wreckage. He grasped the man's arms and pulled him out of the vehicle, which was fully engulfed in flames.

After finally pulling the man free, Cooley helped him climb up the embankment and away from the van to wait for rescue personnel to arrive.

Public Safety Communicator II Tia S. Fonseca-Casas
Fairfax County Police Lifesaving Award

In October 2000, Fonseca-Casas received a 911 call from a man on his cell phone. The man said he had pulled his car to the shoulder of the Fairfax County Parkway at Ox Road because he felt dizzy. Fonseca-Casas dispatched rescue personnel to that location, but kept the victim on the line. As Fonseca-Casas continued to talk to the man, he became more disoriented and confused. She kept talking to him until help arrived.

Responding rescue personnel reported that they could not locate the victim. Fonseca-Casas asked the victim to turn on his car's flashers, sound the horn and flash the headlights. Fonseca-Casas asked the victim to recount what he had done that day. Fonseca-Casas determined that he might have been traveling between his residence in Springfield and a friend's house in Herndon. Fonseca-Casas surmised that the victim might be on the Fairfax County Parkway near Franklin Farm Road and dispatched rescue personnel to search for the man. The unit from Chantilly found the victim, who had suffered a stroke.

Master Deputy Sheriff Joseph M. Hayward
Fairfax County Office of the Sheriff Lifesaving Award

In September 2001, Hayward and a colleague were on perimeter security of the Judicial Complex. Hayward entered the parking garage and encountered an old Chrysler with smoke billowing from the engine compartment. Running to the Chrysler, Hayward saw an adult male sitting unconscious in the driver's seat, as smoke filled the passenger compartment of the vehicle. Finding the driver's door locked, Hayward found the passenger door unlocked. He opened this door and shook the man several times while yelling "Wake up!" He turned off the engine, then reached into the vehicle, pulled the unconscious man outside and carried him away. After approximately 30 seconds the driver regained consciousness and was able to answer several questions. Fire and rescue units determined that the individual was suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning and would die without further medical attention. He was transported to the hospital without further incident.

Second Lieutenant Anthony P. Bagapor
Fairfax County Office of the Sheriff Lifesaving Award

In December 2000, while off duty, Bagapor was traveling on Annandale Road. As he approached the intersection of Annandale Road and Ravensworth Road, he noticed a car leave the roadway and drive through several trees and bushes before stopping. Bagapor stopped to help, and as he approached the scene, he found two occupants inside the vehicle. The passenger emerged, appearing dazed but not seriously injured. The driver, however, was unresponsive. Bagapor directed a citizen who had stopped to assist to help him in removing brush and debris from the driver's side door so he could reach the victim. Bagapor found that the driver was not breathing, removed the man's seatbelt and pushed his seat to a reclining position in an attempt to open his airway. Finding no pulse, he began administering CPR. Bagapor provided pertinent information to the dispatcher on the citizen's cell phone as to the location and condition of both victims. Bagapor continued CPR until rescue units arrived.

The victim had suffered a heart attack, and though he initially survived the heart attack, his history of heart problems and other ailments resulted in his subsequent death.

Police Officer First Class Sheri A. Cooke
Fairfax County Police Dept. Lifesaving Award

In January 2001, Police Officer First Class Sheri Cooke was dispatched to a report of a 6-month-old infant who was not breathing. Upon arriving, Cooke obtained information from the father that the baby had stopped breathing while the nanny was feeding her a bottle. Cooke checked the baby and began rescue breathing and CPR while rescue personnel were en route.

Prior to the arrival of rescue personnel, Cooke successfully resuscitated the baby. Paramedics took the baby to the hospital, where it was determined that she was suffering from shaken baby syndrome and had been abused on several occasions. The nanny was subsequently charged with felony child abuse.

Lieutenant Kerwin A. McNamara
Fairfax County Fire & Rescue Dept. Lifesaving Award

In June of last year, Lieutenant Kerwin McNamara was off duty, eating lunch at a steakhouse with his wife. While they were dining, McNamara observed a male patron exhibiting signs of choking. Responding to the situation, McNamara found the victim's son attempting to dislodge the obstruction, but with no success.

As the victim's lips and face began to turn blue from lack of oxygen, McNamara took control and performed a successful Heimlich maneuver, dislodging the obstruction. The victim regained his breathing and recovered completely.

Police Officer First Class Rex D. Pagerie
Fairfax County Police Dept. Certificate of Valor

Police Officer First Class Mirchelle G. Enright
Fairfax County Police Dept. Lifesaving Award

In July of last year, Police Officer First Class Rex Pagerie and Police Officer First Class Mirchelle Enright responded to a report of a child drowned in a storm retention pond. Upon arriving, the officers found an unconscious 9-year-old boy laying on the ground with two people attempting to perform rescue breathing.

Pagerie immediately took over and began CPR. A crowd of approximately 15 people had gathered at the scene. Enright ordered the crowd away from Pagerie and helped to calm the child's mother, later recruiting a neighbor familiar with the family to tend to the mother until rescue personnel arrived. Enright's command presence established sufficient scene security, allowing her to assist Pagerie in administering chest compressions.

During rescue breathing, the victim vomited into Pagerie's mouth. Although he suffered compromised exposure from a boy he knew nothing about, Pagerie cleared the boy's airway and continued CPR without hesitation.

Rescue personnel arrived to transport the boy to the hospital, and they were able to establish a pulse while en route. Medical personnel from the hospital later commented that the boy's survival could be directly attributed to the efforts of these two officers.

Master Deputy Sheriff Mark A. Dominguez
Fairfax County Office of the Sheriff
Certificate of Valor

Private First Class Saleem K. Khalil
Fairfax County Office of the Sheriff
Certificate of Valor

In October 2001, Master Deputy Sheriff Mark Dominguez and Private First Class Saleem Khalil were route for a routine prisoner pickup from Virginia Beach when they came upon a tractor trailer fire. As first responders, Dominguez and Saleem Khalil assessed the scene and contacted the Caroline County Sheriff's Office and the Virginia State Police to advise them of the situation.

Dominguez and Khalil observed the freightliner tractor and the cargo trailer were on fire. A man was observed in the cab of the tractor, not moving. However, a fire had developed on the driver side of the tractor making rescue of the driver not possible.

Khalil backed his vehicle off the bridge and stopped all traffic on Interstate 95, prior to the bridge. Dominguez noticed some of the cargo had spilled out onto the bank. He identified the cargo as ammonium nitrate (fertilizer).

Realizing the possible hazard of mixing fertilizer with diesel fuel, Dominguez and Khalil began to evacuate bystanders from the area. Upon arrival of fire and rescue units, Dominguez advised them of the hazardous materials situation. Having been a volunteer fireman, Dominguez assisted the fire department in hooking up their trucks to extinguish the fire. After the second explosion, state troopers closed northbound I-95 to traffic. Khalil assisted with traffic control and continued to direct traffic until the situation stabilized.