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Bear Trap Dunes Hosts Joshua M. Freeman Valor Awards

The following is an article from the Coastal Point newspaper.

Valor Awards celebrate those who protect the community

On the worst day of a person’s life, these are the folks who will respond. The 2020 Joshua M. Freeman Valor Awards were presented this week to top police officers, paramedics, EMTs and firefighters who serve the local community.

The Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce hosted the annual event on Feb. 21, sponsored by the Carl M. Freeman Companies. Overall, 10 agencies nominated 23 men and women for either long-term dedication or outstanding performance in an unusually difficult or dangerous situation.

“What you do matters on so many levels, and you are appreciated by the community,” said Lauren Weaver, Chamber director.

Laurence “Larry” Corrigan received the Overall Valor Award for 2020. Now the police chief in Frankford, he was with the Fenwick Island Police Department when he rescued a 1-year-old infant from a hot car last August. He smashed a window and moved the child to his air-conditioned patrol car.

Additionally, Corrigan led a multi-jurisdictional pursuit in a serious stalking/harassment case. When a suspect fled from Corrigan, police pursuit ranged from Fenwick Island to unincorporated areas near Route 26. The suspect smashed his vehicle but was ultimately arrested after a struggle.

Having been thrice honored at the Valor Awards, this is Corrigan’s first overall win.

“I’m very humbled. I mean, these are wonderful people here doing great things in the community. Some of them are unpaid,” he said.

He commended the fire and EMS staff who respond at all hours, as well as the police agencies who work well together.

“When you see what the firefighters and EMS people do behind the scenes,” he said, referencing meetings, fundraising and youth programs, “I’m amazed when I watch these guys. If all these folks were paid, I think it would probably bankrupt the State of Delaware. … And these folks are doing it because they want to. That’s truly amazing, and I tip my hat to them.”

Fenwick Police Chief Bill Boyden said he was proud to nominate Corrigan, although he was sad to see him leave his department. This winter, Corrigan became the first officer, and police chief, of Frankford’s newly restored police department.

“I’m so honored for him to get the award. I think he’s proven himself to the Town of Frankford in more ways than one,” said Joanne Bacon, Frankford Town Council president.

“We’re very proud of him. We see good things happening,” said James “Jimmy” Sample, Frankford council member. “And I think he’s gaining a very good relationship with the kids in our community.”

Impressive stories

All the nominees were recognized for their service, which ultimately builds, protects and defines a community.

At the Bethany Beach Police Department, Sgt. Brandon Elliott led hundreds of hours of investigation during the two-week disappearance of Linda Bravo in June. He researched surveillance footage, cell phone records and signals, search warrants, countless interviews and coordinated around 10 various agencies until she was found, deceased, in a local canal.

“Although this was not the result Sgt. Elliott had worked tirelessly to find, this brought much-needed closure to the family and to our community as a whole. Det. Elliott’s empathy for the victim — for the family — truly shows in this incident,” his nomination letter noted.

At Ocean View Police Department, Administrative Officer Russell Carter oversees information technology, including data management.

“His efforts ensure the OVPD remains at the forefront of using technology and modern practices to combat crime and improve public safety. Officer Carter’s initiative, his innovation and excellence in public safety set a high bar and are worthy of recognition.”

The Selbyville Police Department’s PFC Eric Foskey had a busy year, making nearly 100 criminal arrests, including several notable incidents: the Fenwick stalking subject (with a violent fistfight before that person surrendered); a shooting suspect; and an armed, suicidal subject who was in serious condition before police could intervene.

“Foskey’s timely responsive actions undoubtedly saved this man’s life.”

John Stephens joined the Millville Volunteer Fire Company in 1963 and has served as a longtime engineer, past president and ambulance captain during his 56 years in the service. He was their top responder last year (responding to 417 of 456 calls), as well as in the previous five years.

“He is the epitome of a dedicated volunteer,” supporting his comrades personally and professionally, as a mentor, deliverer of meals and a caregiver for the second station.

Charles Herbert is more than a fire police officer to the Roxana Volunteer Fire Company, where he was the top responder in 2019, with 221 alarms. Besides organizing three blood drives and school outreach, he took over the fire-prevention program, expanding it from the traditional children’s program to include adults — particularly seniors.

“Charlie’s vision to get the fire company more involved in community, outside of its traditional role of provider of fire and EMS services, has been a great success.”

At Frankford Volunteer Fire Company, Assistant Chief Curtis Stevens is a go-to guy for volunteer firefighting. In trainings, he has helped members improve their knowledge and readiness, especially with entry-level members and Operation GEM youth program.

“Stevens works hard to raise awareness in the community of volunteer fire services.”

Steve Hudson, in his nomination, was noted for having given “exceptional” commitment to the Selbyville Volunteer Fire Company since 1980. In 40 years, he has held many leadership positions, participated in many projects and been a top responder.

“During the last 40 years, Steve has demonstrated an unwavering positive attitude toward fellow firefighters and citizens in the community.”

EMT Crystal Hudson has donated years of service to the Frankford Volunteer Fire Company. In addition to being a lifetime auxiliary member, she became a credentialed EMT, helping Frankford respond to second emergencies and filling absences on the primary response ambulance.

“She has ensured that the company’s ambulance has responded to many second emergencies that otherwise may not have had a crew.”

At the Selbyville Volunteer Fire Company, EMT Jeffrey Givans has gone above and beyond the typical firefighter role. Often a top-responder, his work has included multiple leadership positions, many EMS calls and rescue-diver certification.

“During the past 16 years, Jeff has demonstrated selflessness, caring and unwavering positive attitude, making him a highly valuable … member.”

EMTs Keith Baker and Andrew Evans responded to an ambulance call for the Millville Volunteer Fire Company, in which an unconscious 65-year-old man had suffered a fall and gone into cardiac arrest. They and other first-responders acted quickly, continuing lifesaving treatment en route to the hospital.

“Due to the actions of EMTs Baker and Evans, in conjunction with the Sussex County medics and the firefighters who arrived on scene, Mr. Kauffman, a local Realtor, is home with his family, recovering.”

A fatal July 4 cyclist collision led to nominations for Bethany Beach Volunteer Fire Company and Sussex County Emergency Medical Services: Brian Martin, Jessica Martin, Shane Truitt, Ross Sheridan, Clayton West, Molly Daisey and Steve Huovinen, all of the BBVFC, and Austen Kauffman, Ian McClure, Leah O’Boyle and Matt Troutman of SCEMS.

That cyclist ultimately passed away on July 6, but her father wrote in gratitude, “Because of the actions of your EMS providers, we had two days to be with our daughter and say our goodbyes. Kelly was an organ donor, giving us some solace that six people will now be able to enjoy a better, healthier life because of her gift. … We are grateful to have such a high-quality group of first-responders to care for our community.”

“Valor is the demonstration of boldness and bravery in the face of adversity,” concluded Patti Grimes, executive director of the Joshua M. Freeman Foundation. “We are so grateful to live in a community with year-round heroes.” Now in its 16th year, the event was renamed in Freeman’s memory in 2008.

By Laura Walter