The California Department of Transportation presented four employees with the Governor’s State Employee Medal of Valor Award, saying they “showed courage in the face of danger” in two life-saving incidents.
That is the highest honor California bestows on its public servants, Caltrans said, and since it was created in 1959 nearly 600 state employees have earned it for displaying bravery, courage and selflessness in the face of danger.
“These men are true heroes,” Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty of the four awarded from his department. “Every day our maintenance employees risk their lives to perform their duties, but these men didn’t think twice about diving into action to save others.”
Caltrans said Alturas Maintenance Shop worker Dean Rouse earned his award for jumping into the swift-moving Pit River in California’s northeastern Modoc County on Dec. 20, 2015. Rouse helped remove a female passenger from a vehicle that had slid off U.S. Highway 395 and landed upside down, it said, and helped carry her up a steep embankment to paramedics who treated her for a heart attack.
The department recognized the other three Caltrans workers with the award for their actions in an incident on Jan. 29, 2016.
Caltrans said Whitmore Maintenance Equipment Operator II James Anderson jumped into an icy, fast-flowing creek to aid the rescue of a woman trapped in a pickup truck, which had rolled off Interstate 80 and landed upside down in the water.
Then, as Anderson and other rescuers were slipping downstream into the current, Equipment Operator II Kenneth Myers assisted by grabbing Anderson’s belt. And Maintenance Supervisor Rodney Walker relieved “the soaked, frozen and exhausted men” who pulled the woman from the truck, Caltrans said, helped get her out of the water and carried her up the slippery embankment to safety.