Six Collier County deputies, who saved two young children after their father stabbed them, and five North Collier firefighters are among more than a dozen first responders honored Thursday.
About 60 people, including law enforcement and first responders and their families, gathered to celebrate public servants’ heroic acts.
The Sons of the American Revolution, which sponsored the annual ceremony, is dedicated to promoting patriotism, preserving American history and teaching it to future generations.
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The event recognized 20 law enforcement officers and first responders for their heroic acts in Collier County. One of the law enforcement officers was honored for his involvement in two responses.
Collier County deputies save two children from stabbing
- Lt. David Drucks of the Collier County Sheriff’s Office
- Sgt. Kurt Miller of the Collier County Sheriff’s Office
- Sgt. James McGilvrey of the Collier County Sheriff’s Office
- Deputy Kevin Heben of the Collier County Sheriff’s Office
- Cpl. Miguel Nova of the Collier County Sheriff’s Office
- Cpl. Joel Hernandez of the Collier County Sheriff’s Office
On Sept. 14, 2022, Collier County deputies were dispatched to where a father stabbed his two young children, who suffered life-threatening injuries.
Deputies cared for the children, assessed their injuries and carried them to an awaiting ambulance, while securing the subject, who had excessive bleeding from self-inflicted stab wounds.
In addition, they secured evidence, controlled the crime scene, escorted the ambulances to area hospitals for med flight transport, drove to out-of-county hospitals to remain with the juvenile victims, maintained constant custody of the suspect, while transported via ambulance, the Sons of the American Revolution said.
Collier County deputies save 5-year-old from dog attack
- Sgt. Kurt Miller
- Sgt. Anna DeRosa
- Cpl. Jacob Walker
On Oct. 6, 2022, CCSO received a call from a 9-year-old boy, who advised his 5-year-old sister was being attacked by pit bulls that belonged to a neighbor, who was babysitting the children.
When Sgt. Kurt Miller, Sgt. Anna DeRosa, and K-9 Cpl. Jacob Walker arrived, they saw the victim on the ground with major injures, and the dogs circling her.
Miller instructed the dog owner to carry the injured child to the fence entry.
She was unable to reach the fence and set the child down. The dogs circled the child once again.
Miller entered the fence to retrieve the child, while Walker deployed his pepper ball gun and DeRosa provided lethal coverage.
The child was declared a trauma alert and was a med flight patient to the children’s hospital.
They did not indicate the child’s progress.
Individual with autism saved from fiery building
- Autism Support Project Specialist Connie Ledbetter
On Dec. 12, 2022, while leaving the Salvation Army, Autism Support Project Specialist Connie Ledbetter learned the building had caught fire.
Ledbetter entered the heavy smoke-filled building to check and evacuate any employees, guests, or daycare children.
After confirming the children and employees evacuated, Ledbetter continued searching.
Noticing a walk-freezer, she entered it and found an employee, who was unaware of the fire.
“On that particular day, it was called being at the right place at the right time after realizing that the fire was really, really out of control,” Ledbetter said. “I couldn’t wait for the fire department to get there.”
Ledbetter said the walk-in freezer had been closed, but a slight gap caught her attention.
Driver saved from fiery crash
- Sgt. Michael Sweely
- Cpl. Timothy White
- Deputy Ethan Emilius
- Deputy Joseph LaFlower
On May 27, 2023, while driving home after his shift, White came upon a three-vehicle wreck, with one vehicle on fire.
White attempted to get the trapped driver out of the vehicle.
The vehicle had flipped on its side and quickly became engulfed in flames. Sweely, Emilius and LaFlower also arrived and began to fight the fire alongside White.
The deputies remained on scene until firefighters arrived, extinguished the flames and cut the roof off the vehicle to extract the driver, who was taken to the hospital.
North Collier firefighters save 1-year-old floating unconscious in pool
- Capt. Paramedic Scott Palmateer
- Capt. EMT Shannon Rhodes
- Engineer Paramedic Dustin Gourley
- Firefighter EMT Gage McKinney
- Firefighter EMT Jessica Yoo
Around noon Feb. 3, 2023, North Collier firefighters received a call about a 1-year-old who was found unconscious and floating upside down in the pool.
When firefighters arrived, Palmateer was performing compressions on the infant.
Palmateer is also a Collier County deputy and was in his sheriff’s office uniform, said Heather Mazurkiewicz, spokesperson for the North Collier Fire District.
Rhodes, Gourley, McKinney and Yoo began performing advanced life-support procedures to save the infant.
After a couple of minutes, they received a pulse, and shortly after that, the infant began to cry. The infant was then taken to the hospital for further treatment.
Greater Naples Fire save residents during Hurricane Ian storm surge
- Inspector Jared Taylor
On Sept. 27, 2022, Boat 901 was working East Naples with Driver Engineer John Pipitone and Driver Engineer Chris Mercier on board.
After receiving word of citizens being trapped by rising water in their homes as Hurricane Ian approached — some water depths exceeded well over the entry way of the houses — Boat 901 responded.
The team dove without safety gear into the houses to rescue trapped residents.
FHP trooper awarded for keeping roads safe of DUI
- Trooper Matthew Garcia
Garcia has been involved in several pursuits leading to felony arrests.
Throughout the year, Garcia deployed to Key West in support of the Vigilant Sentry Detail and to South Texas for Operation Lone Star, both for border security.
Garcia worked closely with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and located the county’s most wanted fugitive among other high-profile arrests.
In Texas, Garcia worked alongside both Texas Highway Patrol and U.S. Border Patrol in deterring criminal behavior.
Garcia said he had been the only trooper on his shift for the longest time.
Collier Sheriff Kevin Rambosk: Nearly 500 residents saved in five years
Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk said Collier County authorities have saved nearly 500 lives since 2018.
“I believe we have the best in the nation, right here, when we work together,” Rambosk said.
Rambosk said the rescues include cardiac arrests and drug overdoses, which he emphasized are on the rise, leading deputies to up their training.
“When you think about that and put all those emergency services together, think about saving nearly 500 people, 500 residents,” Rambosk said.
Rambosk also addressed authorities’ preparedness for active shooter scenarios. County schools have at least twice experienced “swatting” calls, which are false alarms that allege an active shooter is at a location and deploy resources there.
Added more on this
Can you do some kind of wrap up on rambosk: How did they save that many, from the instances noted below to delivering Narcan to those overdosing on Fentanyl to ????
Tomas Rodriguez is a Breaking/Live News Reporter for the Naples Daily News and The News-Press. You can reach Tomas at TRodriguez@gannett.com or 772-333-5501. Connect with him on Threads @tomasfrobeltran, Instagram @tomasfrobeltran and Facebook @tomasrodrigueznews.